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We read with interest ‘The Case for Plain-Language Contracts’ in the Harvard Business Review by Shawn Burton – and thanks to Hal Good for highlighting it on LinkedIn. In it the author lays down plainly and simply why out-dated, ‘jargonese’-style contracts are – or should be – a thing of the past. “A contract should not take countless hours to negotiate. Business leaders should not have to call an attorney to interpret an agreement that they are expected to administer. We should live in a world where contracts are written in accessible language—where potential business partners can sit down over a short lunch without their lawyers and read, truly understand, and feel comfortable signing a contract. A world where disputes caused by ambiguity disappear,” he states. He goes on to explore the associated business challenges for change, what the solution might be and the result. He gives comparisons of legal-speak clauses with a plain English ones to mark the difference. It’s a well researched article with clearly some intricate semantic knowledge behind it that has been used well to demonstrate the failings of current contract language. The associated comments too are worth a read as in unison, while praising the call to action, they spell out the need for time and patience in embedding new contract styles. Also worthy of note is the comment that refers to how ‘simpler’ contracts will become more and more necessary as “smart contracts instruct computers to instantly implement contract terms without human intervention.” – Well worth a read – and you can do that here.

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