When it comes to writing and interpreting government contracts, precise language is crucial. One common challenge faced by contract writers and editors is distinguishing between the use of “shall” and “will” in the contract.
While these two words are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation, in government contracts, they carry different meanings. Understanding the distinctions between “shall” and “will” can help ensure that the contract is clear, consistent, and enforceable.
“Shall” is traditionally used to denote obligations or requirements. When used in a contract, “shall” indicates that a party is obligated to perform a certain action or meet a certain requirement. For example, a government agency may use “shall” to indicate that a contractor is required to complete a specific task by a certain deadline.
On the other hand, “will” is used to denote future actions or events. When used in a contract, “will” describes what is expected to happen in the future or what a party intends to do. For example, a contractor may use “will” to describe how they plan to complete a certain task or provide a specific product or service.
It is important to note that some government agencies may have their own guidelines and preferences when it comes to the use of “shall” and “will” in contracts. It is always a good idea to check with the contracting officer or other relevant personnel to ensure that the language used in the contract is consistent with the agency’s policies.
Another important consideration when using “shall” and “will” in contracts is the potential for ambiguity or confusion. One way to avoid this is to use clear and concise language throughout the document. This can be achieved by defining terms, providing examples, and avoiding passive voice and other wordy constructions.
When reviewing government contracts, it is important to pay close attention to the use of “shall” and “will” to ensure that the language is clear, consistent, and enforceable. By understanding the distinctions between these two words and following best practices for contract writing, writers and editors can help ensure that contracts are effective and binding.