Curiously Enough, This Came Before Software

contract module: To avoid both unnecessary repetition, and to avoid the additional labor of poring over the mass of said repetition in search of differences from the commonplace form, Imperial contract law has long embraced the use of contract modules, sets of predefined and referenceable clauses and specifications to address specific issues within the contract in standardized manners, controlled by equally standardized variables introduced at the beginning of the contract. A variety of contract modules are available covering matters as disparate as arbitration, assignment and transfer, choice of law, confidentiality, delivery, escrow, execution, force majeure, notice, translation, waiver, and indeed allow for many more areas in which the obligator and his client may choose to rely on existing, well-established terms for a specific scope, with which terms they are already thoroughly acquainted.

Agabanda: In common use, this references the largest collection of form contracts and contract modules in common usage, more properly known as Agabanda’s Compleat Obligator: Form Contracts and Modules for the Practical Contractor, published in annual volumes by Academy of the Quill and Coils Press. Citations from Agabanda are typically given by volume, chapter, and number.

Wistio interpretation: (from it’s establishing case, Wistio Automatics v. Ryudailai Pier Eleven Shipbuilding Cooperative) A rule of interpretation for modular contracts specifying that, for the avoidance of doubt, clauses and specifications from any and all relevant invoked contract modules shall override any clauses and specifications found within the contract itself, except where the intent for the base contract to override the module is explicitly stated in the clause or specification in question. The function of the Wistio rule, if examined from that angle, is to ensure the usability of contract modules by preventing situations of uncertainty from arising in which invoked contract modules and the base contract contradict each other without clear statement of which has legal priority.

One exception to the Wistio rule of interpretation (established by the later case, Jacaranda Graving Company v. City of Dal Épareil) is that strict sectioning clauses or contract modules may not be overridden by any clause or specification not given at the point of invocation of the module itself, since to require the study of the entire contract (and all its referenced modules) in order to determine whether or not the strict sectioning rules apply as given vitiates the essential purpose of the strict sectioning clause or module itself.

strict sectioning: A strict sectioning provision (or contract module – most typically referenced as Agabanda IV/1/3) within a contract provides that (a) the contract is divided into sections whose scope is limited to a particular function, or aspect, of the contract, defined by the heading of that section; and that (b) any clause or specification located in a section other than that to which it applies is automatically null and void as out of scope. In this way, one may be assured, when reviewing the contract, that all provisions relevant to one’s use-case are found in their appropriate sections, and one need not hunt through the entire document for hidden traps, buried clauses, or counter-illegibility assurance.

– Salvarin’s Dictionary of Legal Principles