Drafting contracts

(h) Step 8: Determining the company’s contract house style

Contract automation brings a professionalisation of an organisation’s contracting practice inclusing a consistent ‘look & feel’ of all contracts. A distinction may be made for local law requirements, as well as between US-styled contracts vs. a European style. (The Weagree Wizard does so; which makes its automated contract assembly application unique.)

The best practice group should determine which typographic characteristics will constitute the company’s future contracting house style. The main typographic elements upon which a decision should be made are: font, font size, line spacing, paragraph alignment, indentation, white spaces between paragraphs, numbering style, document margins and cover page layout.

Other aspects of the contracting house style are the content and structure of the headers and footers, as well as the various phrases used throughout the contract. Should they contain confidentiality notices, whether (and how) it is subject to approval, and must a contract number, title and party names appear in footers?

Will the company initiate the signature by the old-fashioned words ‘In witness whereof‘ (which are completely out of context in contracts governed by a non common law jurisdiction)? Will the words of agreement ‘Now therefore, the Parties agree as follows‘ be extended to confirm that there is (common law required) ‘consideration’? Finally, the best practice group may wish to establish a policy on the use of cover pages, tables of contents and captions. (A caption is the lead-in of a contract clause and consists of only a few summary words (often underlined.) If captions are used, they should be drafted as part of the deliverables and be presented in a uniform manner.

For the indentation, paper size, document margins and the presentation of the party blocks and preamble distinguishing between ‘US-contracts’ and ‘European contracts’ is appropriate. Nevertheless, the company should preferably apply both styles consistently.

The best practice group should establish guidelines for the contracting house style. The Weagree Wizard allows the user to adjust all these preferred house style settings. Of you can continue using any personalised dotx-template (specifying font, font size, styles, clause numbering, indentation etc.).