Supermarket giant Asda’s legal team has ‘quietly’ revolutionised the way it handles contracts, one of its senior lawyers revealed last night.

The number of contracts handled annually by Asda’s legal team has increased by 342.5% since 2012, with a ‘significant cost decrease’, as a result of its bespoke contract system, Alistair Maiden, head of contracts and privacy, told solicitors at the Law Society in-house division event.

The contract system covers everything the supermarket buys and sells, from groceries, general merchandise and clothing, to logistics, e-commerce and IT.

Maiden joined Asda in 2012 and said the US-owned British supermarket retailer had a long-established legal team ‘but never had a pure focus on contracts’.

The system has enabled the legal team to respond to a business query within four hours, compared to three weeks in 2012.

The length of its longest contract template has shrunk by 104 pages.

Its longest corporate governance form has been cut down from 22 to two pages.

Previously it took 17 weeks for a contract to be completed; it now takes four weeks.

As part of the ‘quiet revolution’, Maiden also created a contracts ‘playbook’ to enable colleagues across the business to understand how the process worked.

Templates were simplified and, for most of them, included the right to terminate an agreement with ‘reasonable’ notice.

‘Where parties have the nuclear option, it focuses both parties’ attention on making sure the relationship works and reduces the use of lawyers,’ Maiden said.