Working with 500 Words – contract FAQs

If you want to know the types of business we work with, or the work we do, please visit our general FAQs. If you want us to speak at your event or deliver an in-house workshop, please have a look at our speaking pages.

As a contract writer

If you want us to review, revise or rewrite your contract terms, then these answers to frequently asked questions might help you decide if we are right for you (any work will be on similar terms to these):

  • How long will my contract be? Your contracts are rarely just 500 words long. We incorporate your expertise, experiences, vision and values to properly reflect the aspects that matter most to your business and your clients or suppliers. The average length is around 1500 words (the legal terms are rarely more than 3 or 4 pages long).
  • What style of contract will you create? Your contracts will be fair and collaborative. If you want something that is watertight or bombproof, you will need to go elsewhere.
  • How long will it take? We can normally send a first draft within 7-28 days of getting your full instructions and any contract process documents you currently use, depending on the contract’s complexity and what other work we have on. How quickly the contract is finalised will depend on your responses and response times. We have completed projects within a working week but the average is more than a month for a single contract – a suite can take many months.
  • How much will it cost? We work on a fixed fee basis (not on input rates) and our fee depends on numerous factors including the quality of your existing contracts, the risks you are accepting, the time constraints for producing the documents, your internal processes, the average price of your projects and so on. We also have special rates for anyone working in the retrofit sector.
  • What format will our contracts be in? The choice is yours. Your contracts can be made for e-signing, can be created for you to add to a digital contract platform, can include visuals, colour, tables, swimlanes or icons. We can work with an information designer or contract visuals expert. However, many of our clients simply want text versions in MS Word.
  • What if we don’t understand them? Your contracts will be simple. As we want you to read, understand, negotiate, use, sign and adapt them yourself, your drafts will not come with detailed explanations of the terms. If you need an explanation, then we have failed and will revise your contract until you are entirely confident that it meets your specific needs.
  • Will my contracts help me avoid disputes? Your contracts are not your key safety-net for avoiding disputes. Agreeing your scope and meeting your promises is far more critical. However, your contract will be one that both parties can read (and have confidence in what they have promised), will list the key objectives and set out the limits of the deal to minimise avoidable disputes.
  • Will my contracts enhance trust with my clients or suppliers? Simple contracts that manage expectations and leave no room for nasties are one means of enhancing trust.  Transparency & integrity (as demonstrated by clear words) and collaboration (by using fair terms and agreed objectives) are also key for improving trust.
  • Will my contracts safeguard my business? Yes. We know that payment terms are huge cause of friction and we will work with you to use clear terms that smooth the payment process. We also want to record key risks, limit the money-extent of claims and set out what you are doing/not doing. All these help to reduce the number or impact of claims.
  • Will my contracts annoy my clients or suppliers? While we acknowledge that any change to your contract terms or process will annoy a small number of clients or suppliers, we will work from existing documents and follow your existing processes where possible to minimise the impact on your business. In the longer-term, your clients or suppliers will find the simpler versions so much easier to read and use that they will prefer your new way of doing business!

Before we do any work for you we will provide a proposal (either email or as a document) to provide a clear record of our agreement, and – for new clients – a welcome pack.

As a contract reviewer

If you want us to review a contract – relating to a project in the UK construction and engineering sector – that you have received and are puzzling over, we will be happy to help. Here’s some things you need to know:

  • What are your hourly/day rates? We do not charge on an input basis. We charge a fixed fee for a specific deliverable ie a contract report plus discussion with you on any queries.
  • How much will it cost? Our fee depends on numerous factors including the length of the contract, the risks you are accepting, the time constraints for producing the report, your experience and depth required, the cost of the works and so on. Contracts vary from a few pages (a collateral warranty without reviewing the underlying agreement) to hundreds of pages with dozens of attachments (eg a construction subcontract).
  • How long does the report take to prepare? It depends on the length of the contract and what other work we have on. Generally our report will be emailed within an agreed timescale from a few hours to 7 days after we get the full package of documents to review.
  • What does our report cover? Except for collateral warranties, we report on a traffic light system of red flags (critical issues), amber warnings (key items whether legal, commercial, operational or technical), green checks (items to ensure it reflects your deal) and errors. We also report on optional areas such as processes you need to follow, depending on your familiarity with the contract.
  • What does a warranty report cover? A warranty report focuses on termination of the underlying agreement, limits on your liability, changes to make, errors and checks you need to make before signing.
  • What if we need more help? We can negotiate directly with your client or supplier on your behalf or provide assistance behind-the-scenes. The choice is yours and will depend on your existing relationship with your client or supplier.

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