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Government aims to dump jargon from digital contracts



The GDS and Crown Commercial Service are working on making Digital Marketplace deals readable by non-legal types

The government is aiming to make contracts for digital services shorter and more readable to non-lawyers.

The Government Digital Service has outlined the effort in a Digital Marketplace blog that says it is part of applying user-centred design principles to the framework agreement and call off contract.

It says the GDS is working with the Crown Commercial Service to make contracts more accessible to non-lawyers, and that it has run the first of a series of ‘design jam’ workshops.

It is aiming to take out obscure terminology and language, and inconsistent and duplicate content, as well as improving formats, layouts and structure. It also wants to get rid of a lot of unnecessary words in the contracts.

Word deluge

It makes the point that the Digital Services contract on the Marketplace currently contains 88,000 words, which it estimates would take six hours to read, assuming it was all understood at first attempt.

It says that contracts also tend to include a lot of negative or controlling language with terms such as ‘liabilities’, ‘prevention’ and ‘dispute’.

More workshops are to follow, but the blog does not set out a timescale for any changes.

“The Digital Marketplace is about helping those transforming public services by making it simpler, clearer and faster for them to buy what they need,” it says. “The majority of buyers and suppliers aren’t legal professionals and aren’t overly familiar with legal terminology. Let’s aim to make our contracts reflect this.”

Image: Gunnar Wrobel - Contract. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons




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