2

Most legal documents I've seen are multiple pages of large blocks of text, with just a few fill-in-the-blanks here and there, and a signature at the end. If all of the text that is shared between contracts is black, and what is unique/custom-filled-in per document is underlined/white, it might look like this:

████____________███████████████████████████████████
███████████████____________████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████

███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████

███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████

That is to say, all that we really need in our document is this:

████____________███████████████████████████████████
███████████████____________████████████████████████

Followed by an attachment to the rest of the document:

███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████

███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████

███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████████████

Or really, what I'm going toward, is the following question. Say I have a library of common contracts at my office. In there I have a general independent contract agreement which I've archived/categorized in my office library as Independent Contractor Agreement #123, without any fill-in-the-blanks. Now, when I hire an independent contractor, all I give them is a document that looks pretty much like this (ignore the actual language, I am new to legal documents).

I ___Foo___ will engage in project __Bar__ with company __Baz__ on date __Date__ according to contract Independent Contractor Agreement #123 in the library of __Baz__ which I have read and understand and agree to.

__Foo__

That is, you don't even have to give them a copy of the contract. In the same way you might reference some legal code without actually copying the legal code directly into the contract. Instead you would do along the lines of this writing:

According to 31 U.S. Code § 5330, we will ...

Rather than

According to 31 U.S. Code § 5330, which says:

  1. Registration With Secretary of the Treasury Required.—
    1. In general.—Any person who owns or controls a money transmitting business shall register the business (whether or not the business is licensed as a money transmitting business in any State) with the Secretary of the Treasury not later than the end of the 180-day period beginning on the later of—
    2. the date of enactment of the Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994; or
    3. the date on which the business is established.

[100's more lines...]

we will ...

I'm wondering if you can do this same sort of thing. Only have the contract be a few lines, with the bulk of it stored in some external library somewhere for reference. Or if there is some law/thing that states that you are required to include all the prose of the contract in the document the person who signs it takes home. If nothing else, this would save on a lot of paper and ink.

One reason I can think of why this might not be acceptable is because perhaps the person maintaining the contract at their own library could change it after the fact. So that's probably why you'd want to always give them a copy (snapshot) of the prose as it stood at time of signing. But then again, maybe not, you could change the copy after the fact with regular contracts too in the same way, so perhaps it would still be possible then. Hmm...

4

That is, you don't even have to give them a copy of the contract. In the same way you might reference some legal code without actually copying the legal code directly into the contract.

If you do not communicate material terms of the contract to your contractor, the contract will be unenforceable due to lack of meeting of minds.

Referencing "some legal code", provided that that code is publicly available is fine: your contractor can look it up and decide if they are happy with it.

But doing the same with "Independent Contractor Agreement #123" will only work if you provide a copy of it to your contractor. For example, it can be attached to the paper being signed as a Schedule.

So, in a nut shell, abstracting prose out is fine as long as it is communicated/attached.

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