International Conference on Contract Simplification

29 - 31 Mar 2016

Organised by Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue
Location: Rüschlikon/Zurich, Switzerland

About the event

In today’s world, we are getting too much information. It is too complex, and we are getting it too fast. Furthermore, this information can also be inadequate in terms of language, content, medium, and design.

Unfortunately, an end to dysfunctional communication is not in sight.

When experts communicate with other experts or lay people, these problems are aggravated. To some extent, the New Media make things even worse.

The world of contracts, particularly commercial contracts, is not spared from this problem. Increasingly, we hear that contracts are too complex and hard to understand. This leads to unnecessary barriers to successful cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration. Rather than enablers of business success, contracts become obstacles.

The International Conference on Contract Simplification has four main purposes:

  • First, to resolve or at least alleviate the problems of dysfunctional contract communication.
  • Second, to enable the exchange of pertinent, solution-oriented legal and non-legal information among scholars and practitioners of different disciplines.
  • Third, to intensify and expand scholarly and practical intra- and interdisciplinary discourse on simplifying contracts, especially in business.
  • Fourth, to raise awareness that simplifying contracts and pre- and post-contract documents might prompt a new cluster for applied intra- and interdisciplinary research.

Presentations: Day 1

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

 

Block One: Perspectives on Contract Simplification

08:00

Coffee and networking

08:30

Welcome & Introduction
Rory Unsworth, Head Contracts Centre, Swiss Re
Colette R. Brunschwig, Senior Research Associate, University of Zurich

Brian Rogers, Senior Business Development Manager, Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue

08:45

Commercial agility and creativity through contract simplification
Tim Cummins, CEO, The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM)

09:30

Complex contracts: how we got there – and how do we get out   
Helena Haapio, Assistant Professor of Business Law, University of Vaasa and International Contract Counsel, Lexpert Ltd

10:15

Coffee

10:45

Contract simplification in practice
Carol Savage, Corporate Legal Director, Global Client Contract Development, IBM

 

Block Two: Visual Knowledge Communication, Legal Linguistics and Legal Design

11.30

Visual knowledge communication
Martin Eppler, Professor, Institute for Media and Communications Management, University of St. Gallen

12:15

Lunch

13:30

Contract as a voice: A communicational approach to contract simplification
Chris Heffer, Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University

14:15

From visualization to legal design:  A collaborative and creative process
Thomas Barton, Professor, California Western School of Law
Gerlinde Berger-Walliser, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut Business School

15:00

Coffee

 

Block Three: Contracts of the Future

15:30

Blockchain technology: the next big thing 
Michael Mainelli, Executive Chairman, Z/Yen Group

16:15

Smart contracts and simplification
Nick Szabo, CEO, Global Financial Assets Inc.

17:15

End of day one

18:00

Apero and Dinner

21:30

Entertainment: Tidying up Art
Ursus Wehrli, Artist


This event may be photographed, filmed and/ or recorded. A summary of the event, pictures and/or a video of the event in which you may appear may be posted and made available on Swiss Re’s and the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue’s internal and external websites and in printed materials.

Presentations: Day 2

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

 

Block Three: Contracts of the Future

08:00

Coffee and networking

08:45

Dealing with complexity: text mining analytics tools
Rory Unsworth, Head Contracts Centre, Swiss Re
Simon Kilgour, Partner, CMS Cameron McKenna LLP

09:30

Simplifying contracts with language and design:
Experiences and challenges
Rob Waller, Director, Simplification Centre, London
Jenny Waller, Consultant, Simplification Centre, London

10:15

New generation of simplification opportunities
Knut Pohlen, Group Treasurer, Swiss Re

10:30

Coffee

 

Block Four: Negotiations, Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Mindfulness

11:00

Simplifying contract negotiations
George Siedel, Professor, University of Michigan School of Business

11:45

Therapeutic jurisprudence
Thomas Barton, Professor, California Western School of Law

12:30

Lunch
 

14:00

Mindfulness in contracting: Comics as contracts
Robert de Rooy, Attorney, South Africa

14:45

Panel discussion: A Mosaic Approach to Simplification
Moderator:
Rupert Nebauer, Head Contracts Europe, Swiss Re
Panellists:
Sally Hughes, Chief Operating Officer, The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM)
Carol Savage, Corporate Legal Director, Global Client Contract Development, IBM
James Shepherd, Head Operations Reinsurance, Swiss Re
Nick Szabo, CEO, Global Financial Assets Inc.

15:30

Coffee

16:00

Preparatory session for the Contract Jam: Contract transformation through information design and visualisation
Stefania Passera, Doctoral researcher, MIND Research Group, Aalto University School of Science, Helsinki
Rob Waller, Director, Simplification Centre, London

17:15

End of day two

18:00

Apero and Standing dinner in the Foyer


This event may be photographed, filmed and/ or recorded. A summary of the event, pictures and/or a video of the event in which you may appear may be posted and made available on Swiss Re’s and the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue’s internal and external websites and in printed materials.

Day 3

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Block Five: Contract Jam: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Contract Simplification

9h00 - 17h00

Moderated by:

  • Stefania Passera, Doctoral researcher, MIND Research Group, Aalto University School of Science, Helsinki 

  • Rob Waller, Director, Simplification Centre, London

During this interactive workshop, participants will work on an existing contract, with the goal to make it simpler and more user-friendly.

The goal of the day is to conceptualize and produce initial prototypes of simpler contracts.

Participants will be divided into small teams and will work at separate tables. There will be three topics guiding the work of the participants, with 2-3 tables focusing on each topic.
The selection of the teams/topics will be done on day 2 of the conference, at the end of the Preparatory Session for the Contract Jam.

The proposed topics are:

  • Structure: the most effective order and structure for the information, and how this is reflected through access structures and layout (including layering)

  • Language: demonstrating the benefits of clear language; reducing length and complexity; managing the problems of specialist legal or business language

  • Visualization: exploring diagrams, tables, and icons that clarify and disambiguate complex issues

Speakers

Gallery

Photos by Valeriano Di Domenico

Videos

Organisers

Colette R. Brunschwig

Senior Research Associate at the University of Zurich, Department of Law, Centre for Legal History, Legal Visualization Unit

She is responsible for the content management of the Legal Visualization Unit's legal image database.

Her research focuses on the law as a visual, audiovisual, and ultimately multisensory phenomenon. In exploring this phenomenon, she draws on various legal disciplines, such as legal education, legal iconography, legal informatics, legal psychology, legal sociology, and legal theory.

Her publications, postings, and presentations at national and international conferences strive to promote, expand, and intensify the ongoing debate on the law as a visual, audiovisual, and multisensory phenomenon.

Professor-Walther-Hug-Preis, in recognition of her PhD thesis Visualisierung von Rechtsnormen: Legal Design [= Visualization of Legal Norms: Legal Design] (2001). She is the editor of Multisensory Law: A Blogjournal. See her latest publications here.

Helena Haapio
Assistant Professor of Business Law, University of Vaasa / International Contract Counsel, Lexpert Ltd

After completing legal studies at the University of Turku, Finland, and Cambridge University, England, Helena Haapio served as in-house Legal Counsel in Europe and the United States. Based in Helsinki, Finland, she consults worldwide. A pioneer of the proactive approach, where contracts and law are seen as enablers rather than obstacles, she has for many years promoted the use of simplification and visualization in commercial contracts. Since her doctoral dissertation on Next Generation Contracts her multi-disciplinary research focuses on ways to transform contracts from legal instruments to valuable business tools. For more information, see Visual Law: What Lawyers Need to Learn from Information Designers. She is a Fellow and a member of the Advisory Council of the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management, IACCM and the founder and co-leader of the ProActive ThinkTank. She also acts as arbitrator in cross-border contract disputes.

Brian Rogers
Senior Business Development Manager, Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue

Brian Rogers is a Senior Business Development Manager at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue. He holds a degree in economics from Georgetown University, a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University and a Ph.D in business administration from the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland.

Rory Unsworth
Head Contracts Centre, Swiss Re

After a number of years as a litigation lawyer in London, Rory Unsworth joined Swiss Reinsurance Company in Zurich as Senior Contracts Expert in 2003. He spent 8 years managing a team of Contracts experts giving advice for all types of reinsurance contracts.  He has supported many of Swiss Re's large transactions and own-risk hedges in the last decade.  In 2014 he became Head Contracts Centre, supporting front-line teams in the delivery of advice, including managing and monitoring consistency, and producing tools to support the process. His principal professional interest is preventive law and transaction management at all stages of a business, from origination to commutation.  He is also interested in the use of technology to support legal processes, as well as in the use of clear contracts as a tool to optimise trust and transparency in commercial relationships.

Summary

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