A Contract's Fine Print: Find the Devil in the Details
Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk
Insurance, Risk Management, Lawsuit
Contracts are an essential part of doing business. Regardless of size or industry, contracts with customers, vendors, suppliers, service providers or independent contractors are an important part of a business’s operations. While good contracts can help manage risk and maintain good working relationships, bad contracts can be incredibly harmful. This is why every business must proceed cautiously when negotiating and signing contracts.
Ideally, an attorney will be consulted when negotiating or signing contracts. The reality, however, is that many businesses handle their own contracts. Though it may be easy for some to identify and understand a contract’s main provisions, like cost, volume, part numbers, etc., the devil is in the details, which, in the case of contracts, is the fine print.
Every provision in a contract has a purpose, including those found in the fine print. Despite being underemphasized, they are often important when defining a contractual relationship, particularly when things go wrong. The following provisions, for example, are not only commonly used, but commonly overlooked.
Forum (Jurisdiction) Selection: A contract may require that any lawsuits involving the contract be filed in a specific forum or jurisdiction (county, state, country). This may not be a problem if a business is located in the jurisdiction specified in the contract. However, it may be a huge problem if, for example, a Florida business is required to file a lawsuit in Alaska. Despite having the legal right to enforce the contract, the increased complexity and cost of filing a lawsuit in another jurisdiction makes it practically impossible for many businesses to do so, particularly when relatively small amounts of money are involved.
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, Risk Management