Why Bother with Anything Other Than “This Agreement”?

Today I saw a contract that referred to itself throughout as “this CRADA.”

Besides the fact that “CRADA” (standing for “cooperative research and development agreement”) has to be one of the least appealing acronyms, why bother using anything other than “this agreement”? Assuming that the full reference is used in the title and once in the introductory clause, readers don’t have to be reminded at every turn what kind of contract they’re reading. Similarly, nothing is gained by using throughout a contract “this confidentiality agreement” or “this NDA.”

Yes, “CRADA” and “NDA” are shorter than “agreement,” but that economy is more than offset by the alphabet-soup quality of initialisms, not to mention the annoying all-capitals.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

7 thoughts on “Why Bother with Anything Other Than “This Agreement”?”

  1. This one I think I can answer: “CRADA” is a term of art in federal contracting. If you’re writing one, you want it to be clear that that’s what you’re writing. Moreover, I believe that CRADAs generally follow the same form, part of which is the defined term “CRADA.”

    Not that it’s not an ugly acronym.

    (See, e.g., http://tto.ninds.nih.gov/Crada.asp.)

    • Dan: Thanks for that information. I still think that giving a CRADA the appropriate title is enough already.

      Regarding the link, I particularly like the acronym for a “Material CRADA”: “MCRADA.” I’d be tempted to write it “McRADA.”


      • No idea why this one popped up at me 4 years later, but…

        Dan might have also mentioned that few of us who don’t actually work for the US Federal Government have any opportunity to actually make a choice here. The forms of CRADA are generally dictated by regulation (and thus this is but one of the smallest of problems of poor draftsmanship one will encounter when dealing with these forms). (Worse, if you work in this area you’ll find that the CRADA form for Defense is entirely different than the CRADA form for Energy, and no doubt there are others to contend with. Your tax dollars at work.)

  2. Ken, my impression is that this is a US practice (ie not just saying agreement), and can recall a discussion between an American lawyer and an English law in one of my drafting class about whether a licence agreement needed to be called this (as the US lawyer thought) rather than just an agreement (as the English lawyer thought).  I agree with you (special cases aside, eg sometimes it is useful to refer to an amending agreement as an amending agreement, to distinguish it from the original agreement that it amends).

  3. One situation that, at least in my view, calls for more than “this agreement” is a master agreement that is supplemented by work orders or purchase orders issued over time.  Although it is not the only way to do it, I typically treat master agreement plus the work orders or purchase orders as a single agreement, and I find it convenient to define “Master Agreement” as the original, overarching document with “Agreement” defined as the Master Agreement plus the work orders or purchase orders.

    Other than that specific situation, “this Agreement” is generally adequate for me.  Yes, I usually define “Agreement,” and I know that you see no need to do so.  I happen to think you’re right, but every time I try it, the other lawyer sends the document back to me with some variation of “Agreement” defined.  In my personal opinion, life is too short to spend the time arguing about that one.

  4. Because a CRADA is a well-known name for a development agreement with a U.S. government entity, which I’m guessing is what you’re looking at.  Because the government has statutory and regulatory requirements, one knows what to expect in a CRADA.


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