Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christian Twigg-Flesner
Chapter 21: Standard contract terms as an alternative to legislation
Contract drafting has become rather standardised in the past decades. In an effort to achieve efficiency in drafting, negotiating and implementing contracts, standardisation of the wording may seem a rational means: a party does not need to develop new contract terms every time it formalises a deal, the other party will recognise the terms from previous deals and will not need to analyse them again, negotiations will be reduced to matters specific to that particular deal (such as price, quality and quantity of the goods), and past experience with similar terms will be helpful in interpreting the contract and ascertaining its effects during implementation. This goal of efficiency lead to the development of standard contracts of various types. A company which repeatedly enters into certain types of contract may have developed its own standard conditions, which it will seek to apply in all its relationships – for example, conditions of purchase for its raw material procurement and conditions of sale for the sale of its products. A trade association may develop standard terms to be used by its members – for example, an association of real estate agencies may offer its members a standard contract for the sale of real estate. Common to both these types of standard contracts is that they are designed to protect the interests of one specific party to the relationship, the one who developed the terms.
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