Category: Legal Design

Steps to simplifying contracts

We need contracts that are easy to operate and easy to use to gather relevant data. Simplification deals with the easy to operate bit. At the World Commerce and Contracting EMEA Summit 2022, Stefania Passera, their designer-in-residence challenged her audience of contract and procurement specialists to rethink contracts. She suggested

Read More »

Beyond a simple contract

Although I am a fervent advocate for simpler contracts [see better contracts by design, or steps to simplification], for many businesses a simple document in MS Word is no longer enough. In 2017, I helped The Federation of Master Builders move from complex text documents to adobe forms (an editable

Read More »

Better contracts… by design

When I first started my journey to contracts in just 500 words, I focused mostly on content. Simple balanced effective content. I worked with an information designer who added some visuals, structure and design. I didn’t want my samples to look like walls of text! Together we had the beginnings

Read More »

Is plain language enough?

There is a growing global movement towards plain language contracts, especially for individuals or consumers. What does plain language mean and is it enough? What is plain language? According to the Plain Language Federation (and this is the definition in the proposed new ISO on the topic): A communication is

Read More »

Contracts as communication tools

We have never met anyone without a legal background who enjoys working with contracts So starts a 2013 paper by Stefania Passera and Helena Haapio which rues the fact that contracts have become stuff for lawyers rather than as a framework for successful deals and the relationships between a supply

Read More »

Extremely difficult to apply

On the front flap of A New Approach to the Standard Form of Building Contract (which refers to the 1963 RIBA form), the publishers say: By the nature of its legal terminology and complex provisions, [the form] is extremely difficult to apply in everyday practice without constant advice The book

Read More »

Easy to find: structuring your contract

A contract is not just a set of legal terms. Contracts include: processes such as change management deliverables and KPIs works information programming payment schedules policies and codes of conduct A completed contract is a mix of commercial, operational, legal and technical items. The difficulty for most users is finding

Read More »

Design for use not abuse

According to data from World Commerce and Contracting, a mere 0.007% of contracts end in serious dispute (and even fewer end in tribunal proceedings). So why do we mostly draft contracts as tools for legal enforcement and not as tools for project management? And why do we take the same

Read More »

Contracts as User Guides?

Contracts have a wide variety of functions, but one which is too often overlooked is their role as a communication tool. For that they need to be accurate, legally sound and enhance trust. Communicating trust Trust is a many-faceted word, combining concepts of integrity, intent, capabilities and results (or, as

Read More »

Why simplify your contracts?

Contracts are the lifeblood of business. We’ve been using them for millennia, so why should your business follow the global trend and focus on making them simple? Contracts should: effectively communicate what each company involved in the project needs to do (allocating responsibilities) reflect the changing needs of the parties

Read More »