My son has loved talking to me in text speak, ever since he worked out that he could swear without getting into trouble – FFS being one of his first favourites.

Now conversations include



And his current favourite


And, of course, like most teenagers, he thinks his generation invented such shorthand writing.

So when he asked me to read over an essay he’d just written for his English A level, and I wrote KISS at the bottom, he assumed I was paying him a compliment. Which meant that I had to explain that KISS actually stands for

Keep it Simple Stupid.

Which can apply to all manner of things.

Like letters, emails and contracts.

It’s common for clients to ask for things to be drafted simply (as if anyone would deliberately ask for something complicated!) One client in particular this week said that he didn’t need war and peace, and of course he’s right, but Keeping it too Simple can also be Stupid, and a false economy. There is no point in taking the time and trouble in committing something to paper, negotiating it with the other side and signing it, if it’s so brief that it doesn’t cover all of the important terms. You might as well not have bothered, and save the money towards any legal fees that might arise from a dispute.

When drafting a contract, a good starting point is a list of all the provisions that are important to you. It’s also useful to look at a precedent or previous contract and consider what you can SAFELY cross out. There is no point in sacrificing safety for length. As in many things, size is important.

Another way to keep it more simple is to use schedules or separate documents. For example, rather than include your GDPR policy in the contract, you could simply refer to it and say that it is available upon request or it’s up on your website. If you are going to do this, make sure you keep a record of the policy that was in place at the time of the contract, because it might get updated from time to time and if the version on your website at the time of a dispute is different from the one that was in place when the contract was signed, it could put you in a difficult position.

Finally, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. A contract can be lengthy but still simple and easy to follow if you do things like have good clear definitions. You don’t need to keep repeating the names of the parties if they have been defined in simple terms.

Obviously there is a lot of skill involved in drafting a contract, so there’s much more to it than this, but your solicitor is only going to do as good a job as the information you give them, so the better prepared you are, the easier it will be all round.

Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. TTFN.