A contract simply aids in the recording of the agreement. A standard contract helps the parties in making the agreement to ensure that everything is covered. It’s a series of aide memoirs or headings e.g. the scope of works, specification etc., to be carried out at a cost and the timescale for completing the works.
Contractors and other people who do business often have their template quotations and letters of offer with various terms and conditions, their standard clauses exclusions etc. These forms will be set out terms in their favour, for obvious reasons.
Why do we have standard forms of contract? It’s all about balance. Companies use their own ‘bespoke’ forms when they want to include a clause that reduces their risk and puts the responsibility on the other party. Standard Forms were introduced to insert a sense of balance so that the obligations and responsibilities of each party is more evenly shared.
There are many types of standard form to suit the risk required by the client i.e. design and build would give the contractor the responsibility and flexibility of design provided they meet the client’s design brief.
I am always wary of non-standard contracts as they can contain onerous and unbalances terms. I always recommend people obtain legal or contractual advice before signing a contract in order that they understand their risks and responsibilities.