Contracts can be fun


I never thought I would say this but reading contracts can be fun. OK, perhaps not fun but certainly interesting. They contain all sorts of mysterious things.

When you enter into a new arrangement with a company, especially over the supply of services it is normal (and good) practice to enter into some sort of agreement, usually referred to as a contract. They can be quite daunting as they are usually long, written in difficult language, with lots of paragraphs and circular references.

The temptation is to nod your head and convince yourself that you will either get round to it later or that there will be nothing in it worth reading.

A relationship with a customer and supplier however, should be defined at its start. Agreeing to terms when the relationship is good is much better than having to think about them when things go sour. Not that they will, but reading the contract often shows the way that the company you are about to deal with is thinking.

Of course, contracts are just as onerous for the supplier. They have usually built their document over years, taking it from someone else’s template (think Seaborne Freight and their non-existent ferries here) and adjusting it over time.

They are often filled with spelling mistakes and typos, with sentences that are left hanging from some previous cut and paste, or those that make no sense at all. Dates and timings can be inconsistent while some information can be irrelevant.

In one document I came across a sentence which, in effect, said that the contract was still valid even if it was cancelled.

There are always loads of things to look out for, some of them amusing and some downright worrying. Reading through the contract and amending where appropriate sets out the correct relationship from the start. It certainly shows the supplier that you are clear about what you want.

Go on, enjoy yourself.

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