Legal Verbiage for Contracts: Tips for Clear and Effective Contract Writing
Contracts are the foundation of any business transaction and are designed to establish the rights and obligations of the parties involved. While contracts can vary greatly in scope and complexity, they all share a common need for clear and effective language to ensure that both parties understand their responsibilities and the consequences of any breach of the agreement. In this article, we explore some of the key principles and best practices for crafting effective legal verbiage for contracts.
1. Keep It Simple
The most effective legal verbiage is simple and straightforward. Avoid using overly technical or archaic language that can lead to confusion or misinterpretation. Instead, use plain English and avoid unnecessary legal jargon. If you need to use a term of art, make sure you explain its meaning in the contract.
2. Define Key Terms
Define key terms in the contract to avoid ambiguity and confusion. For example, if you are using the term “intellectual property,” make sure you define what types of property fall under that category and what rights and obligations each party has with respect to such property.
3. Use Active Voice
Use active voice rather than passive voice when drafting a contract. Active voice is clearer and more concise, making it easier to understand and enforce. For example, instead of saying “the contract shall be signed by the parties,” say “the parties shall sign the contract.”
4. Be Specific
Be specific and detailed when drafting a contract. Clearly spell out each party’s obligations and responsibilities, including deadlines and performance standards. Use specific numbers and amounts rather than general terms like “reasonable” or “substantial.”
5. Avoid Ambiguity
Avoid ambiguity by using clear and unambiguous language. For example, use specific dates rather than phrases like “within a reasonable time.” Be clear about the consequences for non-performance or breach of the contract.
6. Include Boilerplate Language
Include boilerplate language in the contract to protect yourself and your business. Boilerplate language is standard legal language that addresses common issues and risks, such as confidentiality, indemnification, and jurisdiction.
7. Review and Revise
Review and revise the contract several times to ensure that it is clear, concise, and effective. Have someone else review the contract as well, preferably a lawyer or other legal professional.
In conclusion, legal verbiage for contracts can be tricky, but following these tips can help you craft clear and effective contracts that protect your business interests. Remember to keep it simple, define key terms, use active voice, be specific, avoid ambiguity, include boilerplate language, and review and revise. By doing so, you can ensure that your contracts are sound legal documents that will hold up in court.