Thursday, July 13, 2006

More on Agreements

Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat of late, but a long wait in an airport is always a good cure for that, so here goes. I received several messages back responding to my "lopsided" agreement post with the general theme that it's better to keep agreements as brief as possible.

I'm a big believer in that when it comes to term sheets, and I like it in theory when it comes to definitives, but it's not always easy to achieve. Like haiku, it often takes more time to write a short agreement than a rambling one. In the (large) corporate world, the sheer number of people weighing in will often create a longer agreement, and there's no avoiding long agreements in complex transactions.

However - many commercial transactions can be handled with very brief agreements. In fact, you could write the terms on a cocktail napkin, sign and move forward. I've seen cases where the process of turning an otherwise straightforward transaction into a belt-and-suspenders legal agreement has done more than simply cost time and expense: Deals lost, relationships ruined, and lawsuits created over ambiguities in the "legal" agreement that would never have existed had the parties signed a one-page agreement. Sometimes it's best to just sign a brief letter and move on with your real business.

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