Contract disputes aren’t new. They’ve probably been happening ever since one man met another and decided to make a deal. But that doesn’t mean disputes have to happen. The experts at Prudent Law, who specialize in contract disputes, offer these tips to protect all parties when signing a contract.
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people draw up “informal” contracts and don’t bother to date them. They either forget to add the dates the contract is in effect between or they forget to date it when they sign it. This is a very necessary component of any contract because it not only provides a to and from date, but it also provides a chronological context to the dispute.
For example, if one party says the agreement didn’t go into effect until March, but the other party says it started in January, there’s no way to know for sure when the contract applied without a dated contract. The same is true for signature dates. The contract can say one date, but you didn’t sign it until another date, there could be a time when the contract didn’t apply, but not if there’s no way to tell when that time was.
All Parties Need to Sign
Even though a contract might still be enforceable without all the parties’ signatures, there is a gray area that someone can exploit. Not having all parties to the contract sign the document is just inviting trouble. When everyone has signed the contract, there’s no wiggle room for enforcement because no one can say they didn’t know about the agreement or that they weren’t given the opportunity to decline.
All Changes Need to be Initialized
It’s always best to make any contract changes to the actual contract itself by adding or subtracting language and reprinting it, but sometimes minor changes at the last minute can simply be initialized by all parties involved. Initializing last-minute changes has long been legally acceptable on a contract and it’s still that way, even though it’s much easier to change the actual contract these days.
Just be sure that all changes are initialized, even those that don’t seem to have any impact on the actual agreement (a typo, for example) because once you sign the contract, anything in it is enforceable. You don’t want to lose a contract dispute because you didn’t initial a change that effectively altered the meaning of a certain section or sentence.
All Parties Need to Have the Authority to Sign
Always make sure that you’re dealing with the actual person who has the authority to sign the contract. This can really land people in a legal jam, especially if the person who signed is a minor or someone who otherwise can’t be held responsible for the terms in the contract. Again, it may seem obvious, but it happens more than you might think.
Contract disputes are some of the most common types of legal issues that lawyers deal with. Be sure to protect yourself by following these tips whenever you’re entering into an agreement with another party.