UK Supreme Court Case Shows Why Vague Contract Wording Can Come Back To Bite You

After all the heated debates and negotiations, getting to the writing of the contract brings a welcome sigh of relief. Now that all the issues that you have disagreed about and agreed upon, can be put into writing. Suddenly the power of the pen and paper becomes indispensable. Yet, you also need to have the skill to wield that pen and not leave anything up to chance. We all know that businesses around the world, big or small have legal teams that they converse with all the time. Every corporation has a team of legal experts whose job it is to sift through thousands and thousands of words to make sure you are not exposed or liable for something you shouldn’t be. These people cost a lot of money by the hour, which is why you need to be very careful with how you word a contract so it doesn’t come back to bite you on the backside.

Don’t try to be vague

We all know how the game is played when it comes to legal wording. An area that is to benefit us, we want the wording to be clear and not able to be interpreted in any other way than how we meant it to be understood. However, the parts of a contract where you are put under pressure, you want it to be a bit vague and not clear cut so you have some wiggle room should you not be able to live up to your obligations. This is a standard contract that many people think is a good idea. The Supreme Court of the UK recently has been presented a case by lawyers that are fighting against ex-employee restrictions. The clauses under fire have vague terms like “shown interest” and “concerned in”. What exactly does ‘showing interest’ constitute? It’s too vague and subjective which is why many companies are having to change their wording to be more direct.

Wiggle room is double sided

Being too vague can come to haunt you because if you have wiggle room, rest assured that the other party has wiggle room too. Do you really want to waste time and money arguing over semantics and different legal interpretations? It’s far better to not try and be deceitful, and just keep everything open and honest, simple and without any smoke and mirrors put in front. It’s common for parties who do see an issue in the contract because it’s too vague when it comes to the other party honoring their side, to get advice from their lawyers and ask for the wording to be more accurate. So don’t waste your time trying to play cloak and dagger.

A universal compliance

All around the world, there are different ways that contract are written. No two countries write contracts the same way. So if you are dealing with a client that is overseas and you’re trying to nail down a deal that is for import and exports, you need to have a universal compliance design for your contract. An advanced template management system can do this for you because no matter where somebody is in the world, they will always receive the same kind of contract design from your business. Maybe you have a client in South Korea and they are not familiar with how contracts from Canada look like. They may have trouble with the structuring and the various placements of contact details etc. You can utilize the various designs from all over the world and save them to your profile. Each time you are making a contract or changing one, you can simply click on the relevant template you need. Ambiguously hoping the foreign party will understand a contract from another culture is not a safe bet.

The timing matters

Always be and always ask for the other party to be accurate with dates. Some contracts are so ambiguous with the dating and or timing, that it’s a wonder how they could ever be agreed to. For example, shipping at ‘the end of fall’ is too vague. That could mean, 2 weeks from the start of the new season, or 1 day. You should always make sure, that you set dates in your contract instead of using vague terms alluding to times of the year.

Businesses should know that when you are being too ambiguous in your contract, you’re actually showing a lack of confidence or truthfulness. If you have given yourself wiggle room in the legal semantics of a contract, this can flip on you and serve the purposes of the other party instead. It’s best to not be vague at all, and make sure the other party knows firmly where you stand.

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