Bookmark: "Contract design for humans: preventing cognitive accidents"

Sebastian Greger


In the report “Contract design for humans”, Rob Waller presents an interesting perspective on contract design that could easily be translated into other areas of legal design, or even to UX at large:

I argue that many contract-related problems can be viewed as cognitive accidents and that we should change our perspective to one of duty of care, and risk management. So when you’re fined because you bought the wrong train ticket, or you parked in the wrong place, or when you discover you’re locked into a loan agreement you didn’t understand, or when the Free* Flights turn out not to be free, the deciding factors shouldn’t be ‘was it in the terms and conditions?’ but ‘did they assess the risk of not drawing it to your attention?’.

The notion of “cognitive accidents” essentially refers to the consequence of poor usability. In the context of law, this perspective highlights how “bad UX” (in this case of a contract) not only makes artefacts hard to use but actually comes with inherent risks for both the end user and the creator.

The report’s full-text PDF can be downloaded here.