Weekly Rant - Contract This!

Weekly Rant - More Words do not Equal Greater Clarity

Created by Chet Gladkowski at 20 May 2013 @ 07:12

Have you ever taken the time, effort and energy to read and attempt to understand a technology license agreement/contract? It's about as clear as mud. But what about insurance policies/contracts - are they any more intuitive or clear?


This weeks rant poses a question about agreements/contracts and whether more words is any better or not.


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Even "terms of service" for websites are ridiculous these days. Nobody reads them. If they were a few paragraphs they would be a lot more effective.
Ralph - its an interesting question. Some company agreements are getting more bloated while others are getting tighter. I've been able to get some very short agreements through with minimal negotiation and haggling.
Ralph - Not us. Our contracts just keep getting bigger and more complicated.
Has anyone had any luck with simplified, 1 or 2 page contracts? I've heard some conversation about a new push in this direction but can't find any success stories yet.
Roger - you must have been in the same room I was in when the chief council for a multi-billion dollar P&C carrier told me that his job description was to be the worlds greatest pessimist, and then go from there. I've tried different approaches where we would talk through different scenarios and what happens. It's almost like how the rules of engagement always move to higher and higher levels of conflict where the opposite should be true.
Neil - somehow I wish you were wrong but the current tide certainly continues to draw us in that direction.
The purpose of a lawyer is to protect you against every possible negative outcome imaginable, which is counter to the concept of building relationships. I think they should be completely kept out of the negotiation process whenever possible.
Don't expect things to get better. Our society has become so litigious that it seems natural that both sides (buyers and sellers) will continue to load up on legal counsel and legal fees.
Everett - I have some dear friends that are lawyers. I am humbled and honored to count them as close and personal acquaintances. Some lawyers are the kind of people that I would not want dating my daughter (if you get my drift.) They only have the power we grant to them. I feel like I'm back in the 60's when I write these words but "Power to the people." http://youtu.be/RtvlBS4PMF0
Thanks for the comment William. I agree and understand but if a lengthy and convoluted contract doesn't keep us out of court, then whats the down side of a shorter one?
Jeff - as a vendor I've know in my heart of hearts when a relationship is headed in the wrong direction well before they pull out the agreement (which only confirmed what I was thinking in the first place.)
I agree. Worse yet, involving inside or outside council in the negotiation process often hurts the relationship you are building with the prospect/client, as my experience is that lawyers will worry very little about offending the other party during negotiation. I hate to see relationships get "strained" out of the gate by wrangling over protections for future worse case scenarios, rather than focusing on building strong relationships and trust up front. It probably is not advisable in some businesses, but certainly as vendor I always assumed that if we have to fall back on the contract to solve a problem, we are already in big trouble...
I think you are right on Chet - vendor contracts and carrier contracts are ridiculous these days, at all levels, and they just encourage more use of lawyers. Simple contracts might not hold up as well in court, but my view is that they prevent you from ever getting to court, because everyone understands what they are committing to!
Lawyers are taking over the world!
Title Weekly Rant - Contract This!
Creator Chet Gladkowski
ML ID 11216
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Created 20 May 2013
Updated 01 Sep 2014