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Simpler Contracts by Design

Contracts are critical business instruments, and legal is but one stakeholder in the contracting process. And yet most contracts are written by lawyers for lawyers, in anticipation of litigation.

The wheels of change are turning. Business is increasingly understanding that contracts can be different. They can be written and designed to be easily read and understood by key stakeholders, other than lawyers – and still control risk!

Contract Design and Simplification

Contractual complexity leads to additional risk and costs for organizations, as it:

  • makes negotiations longer and delays contract signature
  • can lead to decreased goodwill and trust, inefficiencies, and errors 
  • increases the likelihood of costly claims and disputes.

Your contracts speak for you as an organization, because they:

  • represent your business and your intent
  • convey how easy you are to work with (or not)
  • determine the speed it takes people to understand and execute a contract
  • affect how you are perceived by your clients, partners, and employees.

We want to challenge the ongoing perception that contracts are purely ‘legal’ documents. Contracts are core business-critical economic instruments with a range of diverse purposes.

Examples

Visual Contracting Journey at Shell  

Watch the video to find out how Shell rethought their General Terms for Marine Lubricants, and why they have been recognized as innovators of the commercial process.

Design: Rob Waller.

Contract Innovators at Airbus

The Contract Innovators initiative at Airbus Defence and Space aims at applying user-centered design to contracts to radically improve the relationships with their counterparties.

In their first pilot, Airbus created a user-friendly, visual NDA to foster collaboration and innovation with start-ups.

© 2019 Contract Innovators @ Airbus Defence and Space Design: Astrid Kohlmeier and Lieke Beelen.

Coffin Mew Terms of Business

What if your law firm’s brand promise is to always communicate clearly and plainly with clients... but your terms look like everyone’s else?

Coffin Mew’s terms look different from the norm at first glance. This helps to communicate their values and get client relationships off to a positive start.

Design: Stefania Passera.

Comic Contracts

Comic contracts can be used in situations where users may have low levels of literacy, such as employment contracts for low or semi-skilled workers. They also work well for obtaining medical consent, and other types of consumer agreements. 

Examples by Robert de Rooy / Creative Comics; Camilla Baasch Andersen and Aurecon.

How we can help

Webinars

The Rise of the Contract Designer 

Contracts should be usable and useful to the people in charge of implementing them. They can offer a competitive advantage in terms of transparency and trustworthiness. Clear easy to read contracts allow a deal to close faster. 

Find out more

More webinars 

Visual Contracts... Worth a Look? Contract Redesign. How to make contracts simpler and ready for digitalization

Research

 

Articles

Case studies

Co-designing Indonesian government contracts for the digital age 

A collaborative UK-Indonesia project, supported by World Commerce & Contracting and delivered virtually due to COVID-19, is showing how human-centred design and multidisciplinary approaches can help make government procurement simpler, clearer, faster, more accessible and inclusive.

Read the case study