How to draft a contract WITHOUT a Lawyer! Want me to create your custom contract?
So you are wondering how you can draft a contract without a lawyer. Stick around and I’ll tell you.
Hi everyone, Simon here from The Contract Company, creating contracts is what we do, all day, every day, and sometimes overnight, like yes.
You want to draft a contract and you don’t want to use someone like me. Don’t worry, I’m not offended, that’s life. I’m going to tell you how to do that. This is what you need to do.
Steps to Draft a Contract Without a Lawyer
1. Find a Template Online
The first thing you need to do is you need to search online and find a good reputable website that sells the template that you’re after.
Now, make sure that you do a search for your jurisdiction. Assuming you are in Australia, you want to be searching Google in Australia for the relevant template for the type of contract you want.
The key is you’ve got to find a good template. When I say a good template, a template that’s from a reputable source. Hopefully drafted by Australian lawyers, if you’re in Australia, or the lawyers of the jurisdiction wherever you’re from.
2. Find the Right Contract Template
Then the second thing is you need to find a template that is the right template for you. Often, using service agreements as an example, there are two versions of a service agreement or there should be, depending on the website that sells them.
They’ll be a service agreement that’s pro the supplier of the services. Then there’ll be another services agreement that’s pro the recipient or provider of the services.
Did I say that right? Supplier of the services and the recipient of the services, basically two sides of the same transaction. If you’re providing the services or receiving the services you can have contracts that are different in terms of their drafting bias. This one will favor, obviously, this bloke and this one will favor this guy.
Where do you find these templates?
If you’re in Australia you can go to a website called RP Emery, they have some good ones. I think there’s another website called Precedence Online.
I’ve seen another one called Net Lawman, I think they’re Indian templates. I’ve only had cause to review one of theirs once and it was okay.
I think basically if you just look around on the internet you will find them as long as you can search or you have enough information to work out exactly what template you’re looking for.
If you don’t know what template you’re looking for, put the time in to try and do some research into Google to find out what that template is, because once you then actually select the right template you’ll be so much further down the track than if you start off and use the wrong one.
That’s the first thing, find the right template and get it from a reputable source, and hopefully the website where you buy them from or buy it from will basically say it’s been drafted by an Australian lawyer or a lawyer of the relevant jurisdiction.
3. Accurate Party’s Details
Once you’ve got it and you’ve bought it, what do you do? Well, when you draft a contract without a lawyer, you need to follow the instructions carefully. Hopefully they give you this when you fill it out. You need to make sure the party’s details are correct and the biggest issue here is you need to make sure that the contract is with a legal entity.
Now, a legal entity in Australia is either a person or a company. There are some other random ones, I’m not going to worry about them because a person or a company covers 99.9% of everything.
Make sure that either you or the other person on the other side, you’re defining them correctly as either an individual or as a company. Now, if they have a family trust or some sort of trust, the only legal entity there is the trustee of the trust.
The trustee of the trust, i.e., the person who administers the trust will either be an individual or a company. Is that clear? The party’s details, they must be an individual or a company.
4. ACN or ABN
Then, the next thing is you need their ABN, so the Australian business number. If the individual is registered for GST they should have an ABN and you can go to abnlookup.gov.au I think it is, or just type in ABN look up into Google and you’ll find it. Put in that person’s ABN.
If that person is not registered for GST and they don’t have an ABN, don’t put it in. If they’re a company, the company will have an ACN or an ABN. When I say all, most companies are registered for GST so they have an ABN.
I think it’s best to put in the Australian Company Number because that is the primary identifier of the company. You can go to asic.gov.au and do a company search, that way you’ll be able to find the company’s ACN or Australian company number.
You’ll have the company name, Pty Ltd or LTD if it’s a public company, and you’ll find out the correct descriptor of the company from the ASIC search. If it’s, I don’t know, Jim’s Carpet Washing Company, Pty Ltd, the Pty Ltd part you need to make sure you get those bits right and they’ll be found on the ASIC website.
That will tell you the correct ending, whether it’s proprietary limited or just a public company being limited. Then you put in the ACN, you’re good to go.
Important: Accurate Address
I’m not so fast as to whether you have the address in there. The reason I’m not so fast is that addresses are usually important for notice, as in if you want to give notice from one party to the other party under the contract then usually you need that formal address listed in the contract.
Most contracts, or at least the ones we draft, allow for notice to occur via email so I actually don’t care personally if you have the correct address details or not.
The next thing you need to do, and this is where things will get complicated and I’m going to have to generalise because there are that many different types of contracts. You need to make sure that whatever the provision is under the contract or received, depending on which side of the fence you sit, there is a clear description of what that is.
There are three things there if you want to draft a contract without a lawyer:
One, set out exactly what’s occurring. If you’re providing services set out exactly what the services are.
If there is some doubt as to whether a clause or a sentence can be interpreted a couple of ways, then put in another sentence that says, “For the avoidance of doubt, that means X, Y, and Z.” You just go into more detail specifying the potential issue.
You might say, “Jim will provide green apples. To avoid doubt, green apples means Granny Smiths.” That’s a silly example but you do really need to be careful, as in clearly define the services, because that’s often where disputes arise because people don’t know what exactly they’ve signed up to provide or to receive.
You’ve got the services. What else have we got there?
Then you’ve got the pricing so make sure the price is clear. There should be some standard terms and clauses in the contract that deal with the actual payment mechanisms in terms of you need an invoice. Once an invoice is received then the other party will pay on X days.
You can change those sorts of timeframes but make sure you specify what the amount is and when it’s payable. Hopefully, there’s no doubt or dispute as to what those amounts are and when they’re payable. Services, price.
As I said, it’s tough to try and do this because there’s that many different types of contracts that what I’m saying now will probably not be relevant for 50% of you who are looking to put in place a website development agreement or a mobile app agreement.
c. Signature Block
Then the last thing you want is the signature block. Make sure that once you’ve got those entities that you’ve defined at the start of the document, the individual and the company names, they need to be replicated down at the end of the agreement and make sure you do those correctly.
If you’re doing a deed, a deed of something, deed of release, or a deed of settlement, you need to be very careful with the execution clause. Go and do some research on Google about those because if you get the execution clause wrong on a deed that can invariably make the whole deed void.
That’s one area with deeds, you need to be very careful. Make sure you just do some research on that.
Look, if you’ve got a good template, if it’s drafted correctly in terms of the right bias. What I mean by that is … I’ll slow down a bit. You go and find the temp that you need hopefully on the internet.
You find a website that sells it; rpemery.com.au, Online Precedence, I think Net Lawman, there’s a lot of them out there. Go and do a search, find the precedent, make sure it’s got the right drafting bias whether you’re the provider of the services or the recipient of the services or whatever it is, the builder or the client.
Then make sure you fill it out correctly with the correct details, legal entity details, the correct services, the pricing, when the price is payable, make sure it’s signed properly.
How to Draft a Contract without a Lawyer: Final Words
If you do all of that you’re going to go a long way to having a contract that is at least pretty good. Whether it’s perfect, probably not but it’s going to be pretty good and it’s going to cover probably 90% of people out there.
That’s one way you can put in place a contract without having to deal with someone like me, even though I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to talk to me. Anyway, I hope that helps.
As I say, I’ve tried to give as much information as I can, it’s just very difficult when there’s such a broad range of contracts out there. Any questions, firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-355-455. Thanks very much.