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Drafting Principles

In accordance with its bylaws, The American Institute of Architects has published, for 120 years, documents that serve as standard forms of agreement in the design and construction industry. During that time, owners, architects, contractors, attorneys, insurance experts, and many others have contributed to the development and revision of the AIA Contract Documents.

The AIA assembled the following documents drafting principles from various policies adopted by the AIA over the course of many years:

1. To establish and maintain, for nationwide application, standardized legal forms in order to enhance the stability and order of design and construction legal transactions.

2. To provide assistance to users who otherwise could not obtain knowledgeable legal counsel in a timely or economical fashion by (a) providing standard documents as an alternative to expensive, custom-drafted documents, and (b) promoting flexible use through the publication of supplemental guides demonstrating, with model language and instructions, the adaptability of the standard documents to particular circumstances.

3. To provide continuing education on the proper use of the documents.

4. To strive for balanced and fair documents by (a) conforming to common law and statutory precepts adopted in the majority of jurisdictions; (b) allocating risks and responsibilities to the party best able to control them, to the party best able to protect against unexpected cost, or to the owner when no other party can control the risk or prevent the loss; and (c) seeking industry consensus among all parties whose interests may be significantly impacted by individual documents.

5. To publish documents that are subject to uniform legal interpretations so as to be predictably enforceable and thus reliable.

6. To express unambiguous intentions in language comprehensible to the users and interpreters (courts and lawyers) of the standard documents.

Where practices are consistent among regions, to reflect industry customs and practices, rather than to impose new ones; and where practices are inconsistent or no guidelines for practice exist, to provide a consensus-based model for practitioners to follow.


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