When clients call me to ask me to draft contracts, they often say, “it needs to be as short as possible, like one page, maybe two.” I tell them that if we squeeze everything on one page, the text will be so small no one will be able (or want) to read it. It is very important that everyone read the contract and understand it. It is equally important that you cover all of the information you need to properly explain your agreement and protect your legal rights.
Long contracts are not the biggest concern
Sure, the idea of reading a long contract can seem daunting, but that is minor compared with the issues that can arise when a contract does not spell out the details. Every word in a contract counts. Omitting language for the sake of brevity can jeopardize your rights, including your ability to enforce the contract.
Courts will look to the language in a contract to define your agreement. If your contract does not cover your entire oral agreement, you may find it very difficult — if not impossible — to enforce the unwritten parts. To protect yourself and your agreement, create a thorough written document, and keep signed copies of it.
Your contract captures important information that everyone should understand
Ensuring that all parties understand the contract now will prevent disputes in the future. It is very unwise — not to mention a bad practice — to attempt to “pull a fast one” by making a contract illegible with the hopes of preventing the other party from understanding the language. This is not a transaction between a shady lender and an unsuspecting customer. There is no legitimate reason to try to hide anything in the contract.
It is a transaction between parties who have a reason to work together and who believe they will benefit from the contract. Therefore, it is in your best interest to draft a written agreement you both understand in its entirety.
In sum: Your final agreement should be above-board, well-considered and thoughtfully drafted to protect your investment.
What can you do to ensure your contract is legible?
When I draft contracts for my entertainment law clients, I take specific steps to help ensure that all parties can read and understand the language. This includes using 12-point font, big margins, line spacing and outline-based indentations.
It is important for contracts to be well-organized, clear, and highly readable. They must be written in layman’s terms, and anything that does not have one specific universal dictionary definition must be defined in order to help all parties understand your complete agreement.
It’s about protecting you and your rights, and that is very important to me.