A contract or legal document should be binding- it should provide an equal level of protection for both parties involved and should cover any rules within that agreement. The problem is that some people may use templates or draw up contracts or documents without checking if they are legally binding or offer the level of protection they need which is why we thought it would be useful to offer these tips for you to consider when you produce legal documents.

Plan ahead

Think about the key points that need to be addressed and start with them. This will make it easier to structure the document and to ensure that all the necessary information is presented in the right way. For example, if you are informing your neighbour about planned changes to your garden the first thing you would discuss is where it would be in relation to their boundaries, (it would be important to make it clear you intend to respect their space).

Be clear

When writing a legal document it is important to be clear what refers to the person and their action (often this is indicated by an initial sentence – for example “Billy shall henceforth be referred to as the CLIENT and Tim shall be referred to as the AGENT”)

Be positive where possible

It is better to say “The Government must appoint a qualified person regulated by the local authority” rather than “The Government may not appoint people who have not been regulated by the local authority”.

Of course, sometimes negative statements are necessary and in these instances it should be kept as simple as possible eg “Smoking is not permitted in the building” as opposed to “You are not permitted to smoke within the interior of the building and the immediate outside area.”

Get it proof read

A legal document is like any document – it should be written in a clear language that is easy to read. It should be free of any spelling mistakes or incorrect grammar (a single typo could have massive consequences if it covers a key point in the document!) Therefore, it helps to get the document proof read before you submit it. For example, if this is a contract sent from one business to another you want it to look professional so that it gets signed and that the other business takes you seriously.

Another reason to get a document proof read is the simple fact that you are not likely to cover every possible scenario – there may be issues that you have not considered and if these are not mentioned it could lead to more problems later on.

This is why it is best to talk about these issues with experienced professionals who have worked with these kinds of contracts and legal documents before. If you are looking to produce a contract or legal document you should contact a member of our team who will be happy to go over your current forms and suggest any revisions if necessary and to help you with any unnecessary legal issues in the long term.