Whether you are signing an employment contract, a tenancy agreement, a sales service agreement or any other agreement, reading and understanding it is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself. In October, we did a LinkedIn poll and found that only a quarter of those surveyed (26%) read their contract in full before signing.
Reasons why we don’t read (or barely read) contracts when signing?
The length of a contract can be a reason why people may not read a contract in full. The longer the contract, the quicker the reader will get bored and lose focus. In some cases, contracts can be extremely long and difficult to follow—and since they contain important information about your relationship with another party, not reading in full can be dangerous.
If a contract is not written straightforwardly, it will be difficult for the reader to understand what the terms of the agreement are, especially since in most cases the reader is not a legal professional. If readers don't understand contracts then breaching clauses as a result of negligence can be extremely easy. This can result in unnecessary and costly disputes for both parties.
43% of those surveyed admitted to only skim-reading their legal contracts before signing. Looking through multiple-page paper documents is sure to put anyone to sleep. Furthermore, if contracts are not delivered electronically, searching the agreement for specific clauses can prove tedious. However, electronic contracts are also not always machine readable making data extraction difficult.
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Risks of not reading your contracts in full
Our survey found that 13% of participants don’t read their contracts at all. The language in contracts can often be confusing however the consequences of signing without reading every word can be dire. If you don't read your contract in full, you might end up agreeing to something you don't understand or even agree with.
A contract consists of many clauses and while unreasonable clauses are covered under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 there are other clauses which may be unusual but not necessarily illegal. This can create complications further down the line if you assume a clause to be something that it's not. For example, if a notice period is longer than you expected or if your tenancy has tenant obligations you didn't anticipate.
Reading contracts in full can help you spot clauses that are vague or unclear. If there's anything in your contract that doesn't seem as clear as it should be, ask yourself why. Is there any reason not to trust what's written? Or do you just need more context? Either way, it's usually better to ask questions than blindly agree with something just because someone said so.
How Legislate can help?
Legislate provides a secure platform where users can create, amend and e-sign contracts. Post signature those contracts can be stored and searched on the platform when and if necessary. This makes it easy for agents, landlords and businesses to ensure regulatory compliance and post-contract management.
Contracts and policies are written by our legal team using plain, easy-to-understand English while maintaining its robustness. Unbiased legally binding contracts help both parties to understand what's in their contracts and be protected by the law.
Reading contracts in full helps prepare you for the future by giving you a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities under the law. This means individuals are able to make better decisions about their lives and build stronger relationships with others around them.