Do contracts need to be written in complex language?

When it comes to contracts one thing which often stands in the way of good communication is the language used. Many contracts and agreements use complex legal terms, long clauses, and stretch out into the dozens of pages.

Indeed, there is almost an expectation that an agreement will be impenetrable to the untrained eye – it is why people are directed to always consult a lawyer before signing a contract, so that the archaic terms can be fully explained.

But contracts do not need to be written in complex language. In fact, when agreements are written in a language which the average businessperson can’t understand, the essence of the agreement is lost. Many contractual disputes arise from a fundamentally good contract that once signed was put away and never looked at again; this becomes more likely if the contract is written in language the parties don’t use and don’t understand.

Long agreements and complex language can make parties feel safe – their contract is cloaked in the garb of the law, and thus it has all the standing they might need. For a contract to be effective it needs to be discussed and agreed to. Plenty of people sign contracts they don’t fully understand, which is a recipe for failure.

The kind of contract which can get away with using long clauses and complex language is the take-it-or-leave-it kind – terms and conditions which are not negotiated. Anything else needs to be understandable to all parties to facilitate negotiation.

Enter plain English. Contracts and agreements written in plain English are often refreshing for people used to slogging their way through legalese, and mean all parties come to the negotiating table ready to discuss the agreement on an equal footing.

IT Contract Templates are written in plain English in the most efficient way possible. Using defined terms to fully explain the more complex aspects, the contracts and checklists allow for a good discussion between suppliers and customers – helping dispel problems down the track. A good negotiation can ensure the customer gets a supplier that is engaged in the process, and ensures the supplier agrees that what is expected of them is what they can produce.

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