Does your business use form contracts?  Do you regularly update your forms to make sure they comply with changes to local laws?  Are you certain that your forms say what you want them to say? Contractors are often surprised to learn what their form contracts say, or don't say.  Unfortunately, more often than not, businesses learn of deficiencies in their forms when it is too late - i.e. a dispute over a term in your form is already an issue.  Of course, the best way to avoid issues with your forms is to develop your own customized forms.  Additionally, regular review and updates to your forms is necessary to stay up to date with changes in local laws.

Ongoing updates to state consumer protection laws require many contractors to update their form contracts.  For example, recent updates to Pennsylvania law require certain contractors to update their forms in order to comply with the requirements of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA) (see previous blog post from Julie Goldstein on HICPA here).  Similarly, New Jersey law requires residential construction contractors to include specific terms in their contracts (see previous blog post from Sam Cortes on New Jersey home improvement contracts here).  Regular review and updates to your contracts is the best way to be sure that your forms comply with current laws.

Also, generic forms may include terms that are not specific to your companies' needs.  For example, does your form include a mandatory arbitration clause?  If so, have you considered whether arbitration is an appropriate forum?  Additionally, do your forms specify whether the prevailing party is entitled to attorney's fees for disputes arising out of the contract (see previous post on attorney's fees here).  Again, the best way to avoid issues with your forms is to develop your own customized forms.