14th Dec 2015

Nothing is non-negotiable

In commercial and digital transactions, it’s not unusual that we see contracts presented by big customers – in the digital field in which we operate, some of the very biggest – which are completely wrong. Not just biased in their favour, which we can understand, but not reflecting the deal they’ve agreed at all.

In one case we’ve been dealing with recently, a transaction which is essentially a co-operation between two businesses, one (our client) with limited resources and the other, pretty well unlimited – was reflected in a contract as a supply by the small company to the big one, with all the obligations and risks loaded on the smaller one.

What we then needed to do was perform radical surgery on the document, using our long and deep experience in this field. As I write, this particular document is now back with the other lawyers and we hope they’ll realise that they are now in a different scenario and dealing with well advised partners.

You can’t just assume that because companies are multinational that they know what they’re doing, or that their documents will be right – and nor do you need to assume that you can’t push back. You can. If the grounds for doing so are well founded and credible, you gain a batter commercial position, and respect for your own professionalism. You can negotiate, and you should.

Written by Paul Berwin of Berwins Solicitors.

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