Thursday, July 07, 2005

Contractual obligations

Those words popped into my head on Monday as I watched a fireworks display that ended abruptly. It was obvious that something was wrong. As we tried to head home amid very heavy traffic, I wondered what the contractual obligation was for the fireworks. What happened if the fireworks did not all go off? Would the fireworks company have to return part of the money they were paid? What we do know is that there was a fire in the area of the fireworks and that after it was extinguished, some of the remaining fireworks were shot off. This occurred many, many minutes later and entertained those of us stuck in traffic.

When you work with a vendor and are signing a contract, think of all of the things that might go wrong. Does the contract cover those situations either implicitly or explicitly? Are you sure what the contractual obligations are for both parties (you and the vendor)? Is there anything that should be in the contract that is not already there? Conversely, is there something that should be taken out?

In a perfect world, you would have the contract reviewed by an attorney. We don't always have the ability (money) to do this, but it can be very helpful and might save you heartache later on.

You might begin, however, with having some staff member or cohorts review the contract, since we all look at these things differently. Then talk among yourselves about the contractual obligations, questions, etc., that you see. Likely you will come up with several talking points to review with the vendor.

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