A good contract (to paraphrase Churchill) should be short enough to be read, but long enough to cover the essentials.
As a contract drafter, simplicity means using the right words in the right places to make sure your reader understands your message first time. Simple words are elegant and immediate. Simplicity is key to being read and understood.
Simplicity is as easy as ABC: accuracy + brevity + clarity
But simple writing by itself is not the goal.
The test for any contract is whether it is used. A contract should stimulate action – changing behaviours, aligning goals, mitigating risks, using processes, communicating, sharing data and so on. If the only action your contract inspires is someone to yawn and shove it hastily into a drawer, then that’s a waste of time, cost and energy.
Simple contracts provide benefits to every stakeholder due to the ease with which the contract can be created, negotiated, reviewed, adapted, used and archived. They become a positive force for good rather than a hurdle to be overcome.
Simplicity gives users confidence. Once your contract is simpler to read, then both parties will read it. Once read, each party is empowered to ask questions, explore options, check their understanding and work together to ensure it records the deal correctly.
And after that, getting you and your partner to do exactly what you’ve promised is simpler. We cannot guarantee there won’t be hurdles or blips. But the risk of disputes is reduced when your contract is simple.
Success Using Simplicity
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction
Making your contract simpler gives instant benefits. The ABC of simplicity produces an ABC of outcomes:
When contract users can understand your contract, they are more likely to act on it. This produces better communication, ensures the processes get applied, helps you to achieve the project aims and helps change the world. What more could you want?!
When contracts are simple, they provide the backdrop to a more beneficial working relationship: one based on trust and enhanced by the simple contract you are both working on. It’s a win-win for everyone!
When the contract users can read, understand and use your contracts, especially if you are simplifying a complex series of operations on a project, you both have confidence that you know your responsibilities and will carry them out.