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TOP 5 TIPS BEFORE YOU SIGN A LEGAL DOCUMENT

There are 2 main golden rules which apply when you’ve signed any legal document/agreement and these are:

  • you’re bound/stuck with it – each and every clause
  • there’s no point in whining if it doesn’t include something that you’ve verbally agreed – it’s up to you to read and check it

Like it or not, most of us have signed a legal document/agreement without reading it and we’d have done well to follow these 5 tips:

TIP 1 –  READ IT

Read what you are signing/agreeing to. How often have you clicked the “I agree to these terms” box or grabbed a pen and signed as if the document was running away from you?

It may not be quite so important in every situation and reading may be time-consuming and dull. OK, everyone in business may have done it and will continue to do it – that’s no comfort once you’re stuck with what you’ve signed.

TIP 2 – MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND IT

A client once said to me that they felt “silly” asking someone with whom they were doing business with for time to go through a legal document.  My answer was, “wouldn’t you feel sillier being stuck with something you didn’t intend to be stuck with?”.

In actual fact, I think most people admire someone who has the confidence to take care of their own business’ needs. After all, if you are careful with your own business, chances are, you’ll be careful with mine!

Remember, you will be stuck with what the legal document/agreement actually says, not what you think it says. After all, if you assume something …. You may end up braying like an ass when it all goes wrong.

TIP 3 – QUESTION

If you think something

  • should be in the legal document/agreement then ask for it to be included
  • is in the agreement when it shouldn’t be, ask why

This is not the time for coyness. If you truly believe that you will “offend someone” or “lose the deal” because you’ve dared to raise questions, I would have to ask how good this deal is actually going to be for you and your business.

TIP 4 – CHECK IT

Once you’ve read and understand it – check it again. Particularly look at the details such as names, dates and price agreed.

I’m not suggesting that any business would deliberately try to mislead another but in the “race” to get things finalised, human error exists.

TIP 5 – ASK FOR ADVICE

None of us excel at every part of business – we each have our own strengths and weakness. If you can design a website, why should you be expected to understand a legal document/agreement? How many lawyers do you think could design a website?

Surely it makes sense to take advice about every legal document/agreement which impacts on your business.

I find it incredible that any business likes to leave an element of chance/ magic/luck to a legal document or agreement which is of questionable value to their business and could potentially break it. Imagine if someone offered you a lottery ticket in which there was a

–  chance that your business could earn £200,000 but equally, a

–  big chance that your business could be brought to its knees/closed

It is really worth the gamble? It’s not. There is little in this life that 30 minutes makes a difference to, other than emergency medical treatment – documents are not in this category and beware of someone who is telling you otherwise. If the deal is so hot that it means you have to sign a contract blind then the deal will be hot in so many other ways you could do without it. Tell us about your experiences.

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