A proposed XML standard for contract documents

Track: Late Breaking News, Vertical Industries, Large-Scale Architectures

Audience Level: High Level/Technical view

Time: Thursday, November 17 09:45

Author: Peter Meyer, Elkera Pty Limited

Keywords: Documentation, Document Creation, XML, Schema, Contracts, Authoring


The OASIS, Legal XML eContracts Technical Committee was constituted nearly three and a half years ago. The TC's mission is to promote “the efficient creation, maintenance, management, exchange and publication of contract documents and contract terms”. Since its formation, the TC has considered a wide range of use cases from members with very different perspectives on contract documents and contract transactions. The TC conducted a detailed requirements analysis and a review of available XML schema for narrative documents.

The TC identified four major domains in which narrative contact documentation is relevant to contracts. The TC has decided to produce a specification for an XML schema that is suited to the back-end processing of narrative contract terms and documents. This is intended to support knowledge management and automated document production by enterprises who use contract narrative terms library systems to produce documents for multiple contract transactions. The TC expects that front-end processes such as the drafting of original contract narrative terms for individual contracts will continue to use word processor based applications for the foreseeable future.

There is no generally available XML schema that is suitable for maintenance of contract narrative terms and documents in library based systems used by law firms and other enterprises. The TC's proposed specification and schema will meet this need. It will provide a schema designed for long term storage and automated processing of narrative contract terms and documents. It will also facilitate their publication in any desired output format. This will support web based contract creation systems and complement the development of word processing based XML formats such as the Microsoft Office Open XML format and the OASIS OpenDocument XML format. Enterprises that have hitherto used proprietary processing systems for back-end contract narrative terms library management that tie content to software will be able to use off-the-shelf, standards based XML processing applications. The TC expects this will reduce costs and enable improved contract document creation services.