Contract Drafting tips

30 09 2008

The ABA e-newsletter has an interesting article about contract drafting. Even though as a photographer you probably aren’t drafting your own contract, you should be aware of the concepts of contract drafting and differing views on it.

The perspective of this author is a wise one. A couple of things he says that ring true to me: “much litigation has its roots in defective drafting” and, “you should use standard English.” He talks about useless phrases that are part of contract legacy, but are completely useless.

Note what he says about indemnification clauses. He writes that using the phrase, “indemnify and hold harmless” is bad drafting language because “hold harmless” is vague. A better choice of words: “indemnify against all losses and liabilities”

An important point for all photographers to remember- fancy language doesn’t make it a good contract. Clear language that can be clearly interpreted makes it a good contract. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use big words or complicated concepts, but don’t hide behind what you think is legalese and expect that will make the contract more effective.

Think about this. One of the goals of having the agreement in writing is so that the agreement is clear. Any person, confused about their responsibilities under a contract can refer to the contract and get the answer.  When a contract is not clear, the parties do not understand their responsibilities. Two people might even interpret the same phrase differently. Your worst case scenario is that a judge will have to sort out the difference in opinion.

Reminder: this should not be considered legal advice. See disclaimer.

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