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Is it true that written contracts should be avoided because they contain trick language?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2013 | Uncategorized

It is most definitely true that some written contracts include tricky language. In fact, I have seen a number of contracts that I believe have been drafted with the intent of being vague, misleading, or tricky. However, in all the years I have been practicing law, I have seen more problems arise over people forgetting or misunderstanding what they have agreed upon than anything else. Said another way, here is an example: let’s say you have a dance band and you regularly contract for performances in different locations, for different kinds of audiences, and in venues of different sizes. Every time you make an agreement, you have to figure out how much time will be involved, how far you will have to travel, what kind of sound equipment you will need to bring based upon whether the event is in a small area or a large outdoor arena, etc. A contract can be a real lifesaver here, if it spells out the obvious things like: when, where, how long, how big is the venue, what kind of program it will be, and whether your band is to provide the sounds system or not, etc. Even a simple contract that presents these kinds of things in writing is likely to avoid confusion later. For example, that same dance band may have 5 performances in a given month, but some of them will require setting up an elaborate public address system and some will not, some will be for 10-20 minutes and some will be for 4 hours, etc. You cannot expect to remember all of the details of every agreement you make with every person with whom you make an agreement, over the long haul. So, even a simple contract that spells these kinds of things out can avoid this type of confusion. To return to the dance band example, how would you like to appear, all ready to perform, only to find the party on the other side saying something like “No, you are supposed to play next Saturday, not this week?”
Our attorneys regularly assist people in preparing contracts. We also regularly help people review contracts drafted by others, especially to help in ferreting out potentially trick language, language that may have a double meaning in “legalese,” etc.
In my view, before you finalize most deals about most things, it is good to talk to your lawyer about the advisability of having a written contract prepared, and if someone presents you with a written contract, it is often a very good idea to talk to your lawyer about it before you finalize it. All too often, we have seen clients who have already entered into disadvantageous contracts before reviewing them with us. That can create serious difficultly that could be avoided by a timely visit with your lawyer.