It is only after you see a contract dispute or disaster, that you truly appreciate the basic essentials to drafting a solid contract. Here are the top five:
1. Be specific. Spell out what you really mean. Will someone else reading this for the first time know what you mean? Don’t assume anything. A simple rule is to think WHO / WHAT / WHERE / WHEN / WHY / HOW (as applicable) for each main provision. Do not be afraid to use exhibits at the end of the contract to clearly convey information.
2. Put it in WRITING. There are ways to prove an oral contract, but they are difficult. A signed, written document is a much better choice to enforce your rights.
3. Plan for problems and disputes. Determine what could go wrong and write down what will happen in those situations. Provide a remedy for broken promises. What happens if payment is not made? Or late? What if outside forces make the contract difficult to perform? In what forum will a dispute be resolved – mediation? Court?
4. Get all the facts. Gather all the necessary information on the front end to avoid guessing on the back end. Write an outline of all relevant facts: costs, due dates, obligations, responsibilities, “what ifs,” etc. Determine what the people entering the contract really want.
5. Consult with an Attorney. It’s better to be cautious than sorry (and more expensive to fix) later. An attorney is not required to draft a contract. An attorney should be able to assess potential risks and put provisions in place to manage those risks. An attorney can also step in to negotiate your best interests.
Contact Holt Law to help draft and negotiate your contracts correctly. This is NOT legal advice.