Moving Forward with the Better Contracts Initiative

October 5, 2016

Following moves led by Andrew Hooles of Fujitsu which have been enthusiastically supported by the SCL Chair, Mark O’Conor, SCL is making real progress with its initiative to develop better contract documents. An impressive group of experienced tech lawyers from a wide range of firms has already become involved and an ambitious aim is looking genuinely attainable. 

SCL believes that by improving our contract documents we can improve the businesses of both customers and suppliers and increase the likelihood of successful deals. Too many IT deals go wrong because of poor drafting, opaque language which leaves the users unable to grasp their real obligations and a failure to grapple with risks that should have been foreseen.  For too long, tech lawyers have been bemoaning inadequacies in contract drafting. A significant number of SCL members have grasped the nettle and intend to make a difference. 

A working group, feeding on valuable contributions from a workshop involving 60 lawyers, has come up with three principles to guide the development of better contracts:

Principle 1:  Our contracts must be easy to use and to understand unaided

Principle 2: Our contracts must be discussed and documented so that they ensure the joint understanding of the parties

Principle 3: Our contracts must anticipate the most probable and significant risks and address them 

All involved realise that the road from identifying these principles to seeing them widely applied is a long and rocky one. The aim is to take each of these principles forward as three separate workstreams, with further workshops and input from key stakeholders outside of SCL, including commercial, procurement, sales, project management and business leads. 

The aim is to publish the agreed principles and supporting best practice for an open meeting in early in 2017 and a major launch and endorsement at the SCL Annual Conference in June. 

Further details are outlined in the paper from Andrew Hooles that can be downloaded from the panel opposite.