Monday, April 15, 2013

Some things to look for in a basic contract.

I previously discussed contracting with larger companies. That information applies here, but there some additional things to note when signing a contract.

1. Companies generally disclaim implied and express warranties.

If a company has a written warranty, they will probably disclaim any implied and express warranties to the extent permitted by law. The company will not be able to do this all the time, because implied warranties cannot always be disclaimed. Also, express warranties sometimes override a written disclaimer, if the disclaimer is not conspicuous enough for the customer to reasonably notice it.

2. Consequential damages are likely excluded.

When you contract for product A, consequential damages are unforeseeable damages that result to products B, C, and D. They are damages beyond the items or services for which the parties contracted. From a merchant company's perspective, these damages are variable for each customer, because not all customers have the same items in their home or business that are susceptible to damage. For that reason, it is prudent for businesses to exclude consequential damages.

3. Severability.

Severability is the concept that if a court of law determines one part of the contract to be void or unenforceable, the remainder of the contract will remain in effect. Companies usually put this provision in a contract.

4. If you have much less bargaining power than the company with whom you are contracting, the contract terms must be within your reasonable expectations to be enforceable.

This is called an adhesion contract. Whether a contract provision is within your reasonable expectations is objectively determined. In other words, it does not matter if you were actually aware of a given contract provision; it matters whether a reasonable person -- as determined by a court -- would expect the provision to be part of the contract.

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