Spotlight on Swift Hub: Transforming contracts for business owners

Spotlight on Swift Hub: Transforming contracts for business owners

Agnes Foy is on a mission to make commercial contracts fairer, more human and conducive to better business relationships, with her tech startup, Swift Hub.

Agnes has recently joined the Cooper Project after relocating to Sheffield from London. A commercial barrister, capital markets author, trading floor veteran, commercial litigator and now a tech entrepreneur, Agnes was inspired by her frustrations - and shame - at seeing too many contracts “functioning in the interests of lawyers”, rather than the people and businesses the contracts are supposed to protect.

Swift Hub is a digital platform designed for SME owners who want to create commercial and legally binding contracts online, with or without the input of a lawyer. 

Users can benefit from e-learning and data analytics features to enhance their understanding of contracts and the clauses within them, so they can make informed decisions about what they should include, and the reasons why.

Agnes brings more than 35 years’ legal expertise to the platform and she has a team of 23 people - with 10 core founders - from across the UK, Europe, Africa and India, contributing to the design, build, business development and marketing strategy.

Included in this team are a collective of secondary school teachers based in Sheffield, who Agnes is working with to design the e-learning materials. Whilst all content is underpinned by law, the team identified early on that lawyers aren’t best placed to translate their knowledge to SMEs. Agnes explains,

“We really want to make contracts and the process of creating contracts clear and accessible to everyone who needs them. But us lawyers only really speak our own language, plus we do so within a legal system mindset, and these realities are a very big part of the problem! So, I’m working with a fantastic group of teachers in the city who teach difficult concepts to people every day and are great at it.”

She continues,

“We also have creatives on board including illustrators, to make the platform a very visual place, and we’re excited about the infographics that will guide our users through the process. It’s important to all of us that our various business life experiences and situational perspectives are afforded an equal voice. It’s also important, in a BVP context, that contract lawyer mindsets are not allowed to dominate in the contracting products and tools that Swift Hub will offer. ”

Informed by behaviour

Agnes is also drawing on the expertise of psychologists and behavioural economists to develop the platform content. This is driven by the notion that business decisions about the content of a contract are actually only influenced in a small way by laws and regulations. Agnes’s professional experience has shown her that social conditioning, legal information imbalances and power dynamics play a far, far greater role. She says,

“Behavioural economics and psychological bargains play into our business decisions, they determine how we carry out business. So why wouldn’t we examine these issues more closely and factor these sorts of things into our understanding of contract clauses? The contract terms are, afterall, the rules that we expect ourselves and the other party to stick to. So there should not be a grotesque disconnect between social norms and how contract lawyers perceive things.” 

Whilst she has experienced some resistance from other lawyers, Agnes and her team - which includes a number of legal professionals as well as herself - are clear that Swift Hub isn’t designed to replace lawyers in the creation and lifecycle management of commercial contracts. Agnes stresses,

“The legal system is changing and some more traditional mindsets simply don’t work in the digital world. There is also no good reason why lawyers should retain a monopoly on business contract content. Swift Hub is designed to give SMEs the opportunity to instruct and retain progressive lawyers - it’s a tool to help them work together but in a different way.”

Swift Hub is almost at MVP stage, we look forward to seeing it progress!

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