Are Disclosures Readable? An Empirical Test

31 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2018 Last revised: 20 Jul 2018

See all articles by Uri Benoliel

Uri Benoliel

College of Law & Business

Xu (Vivian) Zheng

City University of Hong Kong (CityU)

Date Written: February 23, 2018

Abstract

A major goal of federal disclosure laws is to ensure that pre-contractual disclosure documents are readable, i.e., easily understood by the average disclosee. Focusing as a case study on 523 U.S. disclosures in the franchise industry, this Article empirically indicates that disclosures are often difficult to read. Using the Gunning Fog linguistics readability index, this article indicates, inter alia, that prospective franchisees need, on average, more than 20 years of education to understand a franchise disclosure document on the first reading. This result undermines the readability goal of the federal franchise disclosure law since the highest level of education that most franchisees have completed is community college, which is normally the equivalent of 14 years of education. The results of our study also show a significant positive relationship between the franchise's size and age, and the readability of their disclosures.

The empirical results of this study have significant implications, not only for the franchise industry, but also for the institutional design and enforcement of federal disclosure regulations.

Keywords: Disclosure, Franchising, Empirical Legal Studies

Suggested Citation

Benoliel, Uri and Zheng, Xu (Vivian), Are Disclosures Readable? An Empirical Test (February 23, 2018). Alabama Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3128876 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3128876

Uri Benoliel (Contact Author)

College of Law & Business ( email )

Ramat Gan, 94720-7200
Israel

Xu (Vivian) Zheng

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon
Hong Kong

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