Public: Legal system
Legal Agreement Common Symbology   (+3)  [vote for, against]
Object oriented contracts

Legal agreements are bloated and filled with cruft that mainly serve to keep lawyers entertained/employed. 90% of the typical agreement is standard, sometimes 99.919%.

The idea is to have a public symbol register where standard legal clauses are mapped to symbols. A symbol is ideally one character, like the copyright (C), but several characters would be fine too. The symbols of the clauses you want in your agreement are then listed at the end of the agreement, like after the actual words that are important. The symbology for the symbols used is stapled to the back of the one-page agreement for consultation as needed.


The user (hereinafter "halfbaker") agrees to be a good sport when using the web site (hereinafter "halfbakery"). Halfbakery agrees to not interfere with the halfbaker's eating of cake. P S M L O1 T.
-- the porpoise, Nov 04 2013

What about the Sanity Clause ?
-- 8th of 7, Nov 04 2013

sp. P M S L
-- calum, Nov 04 2013

//90% of the typical agreement is standard, sometimes 99.919%.//
This may be true for the subset of legal agreements classed as end user licence agreements. It is not true, though, for the subset of legal agreements that I look at at work. Yes, there are boilerplate clauses that are largely reusable - so reusable in fact that my work has a whizzy macro for Word which allows me to drop in standard indemnification or condition precedent clauses at the click of a whatsit - but these are not reusable without making sure they are appropriate for the contract you're drafting. And yes, there are clauses which jurisprudence or statute make functionally redundant - choice of law being an apt example. However, the advantage of having these seemingly redundant clauses set out in a legal agreement is that it is not necessary to look elsewhere than the agreement, or to have any special knowledge of things outwith the agreement, in order to have a reasonable crack at understanding an agreement. Abbreviating the clauses in the manner proposed, though doesn't put the reader in any materially better position than if they were left out altogether - extra-document reading must still be done in order to have a chance to comprehend fully.

Part of the problem, I think, with legal agreements is that so many of them are written by Americans. American legal agreements are horrible things, with bizarro use of ALLCAPS and BOLD and BOLD ALLCAPS and the jamming together in one massive wall of text of two or more only vaguely related operative provisions so as to make discerning clear legal meaning an exercise equivalent to close reading Beckett. Legal agreements from other jurisdictions tend to favour a more structured approach, with clauses inter-relating yes, but each operative provision treated separately, and written in something akin to plain English. Also, Americans use wierd paper sizes and terrible fonts. I don't think I have ever seen a quality UK law form use Times New Roman, though no true Scotsman.

What is needed for these crufty EULAs, I think, is a commenting system which allows the EU to see what each term of the LA is saying. This would necessitate another bit of boilerplate: "the commentary contained within this document does not constitute legal advice and [ho ho ho] does not affect its interpretation".
-- calum, Nov 05 2013

When I see something like e470a I avoid buying that food. And that happens to be Sodium Ferro-Cyanide, anti caking substance used on most salt sold and used in the food industry. So you get it indirectly or directly almost all the time.

Everybody knows to watch out for Monosodium Glutamate by now.

So the best would probably be the following:
1. Legal clause catalog: lc403, lc5011
2. Clause family: lf205b, lf996/35c
3. Nomencluture: SanityPositive4, GnuDisc2b
4. Standard short descriptions, including descriptions for common combinations: Mandatory sanity approval required, Software licenses
5. Addition/subtraction and stars when consumer attention needed.

Together: These Terms-of-Use include the following clauses: lc403 [lf205b] mandatory sanity approval required [Psychological Requirements]; lc5011-lc5014n5** [lf995/35c]:GnuDisc2b - GNU GPL software license applies, without CopyLeft

Or if you want to be consice: Further terms: lc403 [lf205b]; lc5011-lc5014n5** [lf995/35c]

And in mixed mode: Further terms: lc403 [lf205b]; lc5011- lc5014n5** [lf995/35c] GNU GPL without CopyLeft
-- pashute, Nov 07 2014

This actually could be quite useful for EULAs, privacy statements, and terms of use, allowing many people to actually use them. When reading them online, your browser could recognize the clauses and have popups to give the full text or a summary. Each clause could also be color coded based on customizable categories. For a clause saying you can't copy and sell the software, reverse engineer it, or use a service for illegal purposes, duh, mark it green. For clauses saying they will collect data for improving user experience, maybe mark that orange since you might be okay doing that some of the time, depending on the company. The clause saying they can resell all my info to unrelated third parties would likely be marked as red. I'd only agree to that if the only info they had was my spam bait email address.
-- scad mientist, Nov 07 2014

I think the law should be reformed so that only phrases like 'be nice' and 'do what you will' are permitted. This symbol system would work very well then.
-- pocmloc, Nov 07 2014

Having foolishly volunteered to scan the legalese for pit traps as part of my daily duties, I've maintained a list of the most interesting to date.

Epidemic failure – 2% of product failing in same mode while under warranty triggers right to demand design change at customer option and seller expense

Ten year warranty, spares supply, and one year EOL notice required

Shipments five days earlier than target will be rejected, returned, and reshipped at supplier expense

Shipments five days later than the target will be rejected and cancelled

China ROHS compliance – product shall be labeled with how many years before ROHS substances will leak out

Counterfeit suspect parts will be confiscated by the customer, we replace at our cost, this liability does not lapse until a space vehicle has been launched

No research involving human subjects may be performed

Any requirements waived in writing by the customer continue to stand regardless, despite any contract to the contrary

No child labor may be used, unless subcontracted through the southern Sudan

the customer will provide us forecast periodically, and we will prepare materials and production capacity to meet that forecast. But this does not constitute a purchase order, and they don't have to buy anything. But be ready, just in case.

Goods shall be free from design and specification defects and no problems dealing with the changeover of the last century or leap years are allowed either.

we will provide free medical care for our employees

Customer signoffs regarding drawings submitted to them for confirmation of design are only opinions and don’t count if we make what they ask us to and they don’t like it

Shipments going by sea must be by US flagged vessels, unless there’s not one available or it’s too expensive, in which case 45 days in advance you need written approval from the customer. If the customer doesn’t reply in a timely manner that’s not the customer’s problem.

All articles furnished on this purchase order must be of the quality specified, or in the event no quality is specified, must be of the best quality.

The FAA is not allowed to purchase drinking water unless safe water is not readily available. Also prohibited are magazine subscriptions, fans, cellphones, personalized stationary, coffee mugs, leather items, giveaway trinket items, IPADs, business cards, storage units,

Our terms and conditions are the default, we take objection to your terms and conditions regardless of whether they influence this order or not
-- normzone, Nov 07 2014

I've just been informed that is exactly like creative commons.
-- the porpoise, Dec 29 2015

To attain the same goal as the original poster I propose that legal contracts must be hand-written and signed by all parties. Otherwise the default laws and rules apply. - No one would set up an EULA or contract of more than two pages anymore, and they would stick to the really relevant items.
-- Toto Anders, Dec 31 2015

random, halfbakery