When writing contracts you should:
- design contracts specifically for what you are buying - for example, what’s relevant to a digital and technology contract, may not be relevant to facilities management, marketing or office supplies
- use plain language and avoid legal jargon; if you have to use legal wording explain what it means
- avoid using negative or controlling terms where possible, for example: ‘termination’, ‘consequences’, ‘liabilities’, ‘penalties’, ‘dispute’ and so on
- check the document with a lawyer to rule out any risks
You should also:
- ensure that language is inclusive and accessible to a diverse range of users, for example those with special needs - check with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) before finalising the text
- give clear guidance on when emergency conditions apply, that is an exceptional situation beyond the control of the buyer or supplier known as ‘force majeure’
- use visual aids such as flowcharts and timelines to provide a summary and clarify what is stated in the text
If you regularly commission a certain type of service, for example software development, you should consider setting up a framework agreement.
Framework agreements allow suppliers to sign up in advance to supply specific services for a limited period. Buyers and suppliers still need to sign a contract (a ‘call-off contract’) each time a service is bought, but these contracts are much shorter and faster to produce than traditional contracts.
All contracts should be published so that they are:
- accessible to the public (ideally via the internet)
- published in full except for legitimately sensitive information
- in a digital, machine readable format
For more information visit the Open Contracting Data Standard website