Most contracts come with small print. This is the language that includes the underlying terms of the deal. Don’t be misled by the size of the font. Small prints in contracts can make a big difference.
Some parties dismiss the importance of some contract terms. There are several misconceptions that cause one to treat some clauses less seriously.
Some believe the small print is a necessary formality in legal agreements and therefore should be accepted as inevitable. They figure all other parties had accepted the terms and therefore this should be normal. This is not always so.
Each party should be willing to negotiate all terms. Church leaders should be extra cautious when dealing with a party who refuses to discuss all aspects of the contract.
Some parties fail to recognize the small print. It may be thought so long as the main scope of work is properly spelled out, the deal is safe. Each term has potential consequences. Churches should understand these provisions are there for a reason. One should ask for the reason each clause exists.
A church leader may think that all small print applies to both parties equally. In many instances the fine print serves to protect the interests of the party who wrote the contract. If a church is presented a writing that was prepared by the other party’s lawyer, treat the terms with healthy caution.
Small print can seem intimidating. Lawyers often use terms of art that have exact legal implications. While a church official may understand the common meaning of a phrase, the courts may apply a different standard.
If there is any doubt about what a term means, church leaders should seek counsel to interpret small print.
A party often includes every conceivable outcome in the small print. This is because the party may have learned through experience to address various contingencies. This is why contracts are sometimes lengthy. This can be good for both parties if the terms are understood and agreed to by all. Churchleaders should read the fine print carefully to make sure no detail is left unexamined.
Church leaders should think what could go wrong that would cause a legal dispute to arise. This exercise will help explain why some terms are included in the first place. Understanding the impact of each fine printed clause helps put the issue in context.
Small print create an understanding for the basic functions of the transaction. Some terms include who has responibility for breaches. Delivery terms determine who accepts the liability for goods in transit that are being shipped. Other small print assign which court has jurisdiction over disputes and thereforeo the choice of laws that will be applied.
Finally, some small print may be incorporated by reference. This means there are other terms referenced in a separate document. Just because you don’t see all the fine print does not necessarily mean other conditions do not apply.
Always ask to see all the terms that pertain to the deal. When in doubt, seek legal counsel to ensure you understand the small print.