Policy Brief: User Friendly Contracts

Contracts are essential tools for enabling cooperation between people. Although legal professionals are comfortable with such documents, most people find contracts difficult to understand. However, a growing group of scholars and innovators are making contracting a more positive experience. These Gamechangers are developing user-friendly contracts that are fair and transparent and help people to better understand their rights and obligations.

Two types of contract practices have emerged from their efforts: online contracting and visual, simplified and plain language contracts. Their starting point is the user, who may be illiterate, speak a different language or just lacks the time to read a lengthy document. Paradigms behind this new development in the field of contracts include proactive law, responsive law, people law, legal design and people-centred justice.

In this policy brief, we seek to answer the question

How might we increase access to justice for people by scaling and improving user-friendly contracts?

Our objective is to identify critical success factors for organisations providing user-friendly contracts that are involved in scaling and improving the quality of service delivery.

To scale the usage of these contracts, there is a need to market the idea and its underlying vision. Online support for contracting is already taking off. Regulatory bodies need to validate the legal enforceability of visual contracts which can increase the confidence of individuals, small businesses and legal professionals in using them. As a next step, we expect user-friendly contracts to embrace principles of relational contracting to further strengthen the relationship between contracting parties.