Before You Write Your Own Contract certain questions should be covered in early phone conversations and confirmed with a signature.

Before You Sign That Contract . . .

Signing your name to a contract means that you agree with the terms and conditions in it. Consequently, it is important to actually read the contract before you sign it. Avoid getting into a contract in which any of the terms or conditions seem unfair, impossible to perform by either party or overly burdensome to you. Also, don’t rely on what anyone tells you about the contract. Generally, only the information printed on the contract will matter if there are any problems. What the sales representative told you won’t likely be a consideration if there are problems later on. Therefore it is up to you to make sure you understand and agree to everything that is written.

Because dealing with contact problems can be difficult, the best approach is to try to avoid them at the outset by understanding the contract requirements. Review the following important details before you sign that contract:

Parties to the Contract
Be sure to review the names of the parties listed in the contract. Sometimes a company may have several different business names. Know with whom you are actually going to be contracting with.

Contract Dates
Look at the dates of the contract. Sometimes there are several dates referenced. These dates could be the date that you sign the contract; the date the contract begins; the date that the contract ends; and the dates that each of the parties are required to perform their obligations including paying for the goods or services. Be sure that you are clear on and agree to the dates listed in the contract.

Terms and Conditions of the Contract
The contract terms and conditions are its heart. Read these very carefully to be sure that you understand them and agree to them. Sometimes there are many details. While it is sometimes difficult and even tedious to read the details, all of them are important. Take the time to be sure you understand them.

What Happens if There is a Problem?
Most contracts will include a condition or conditions that will be invoked if there is a problem such as non-payment or poor or non-performance of contract obligations. Sometimes a condition will be a late fee or a cancellation of the contract. In other cases the unperformed condition might trigger an arbitration of the contract between the parties, or liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are the amount of money agreed to by the parties at the time the contract is made that the party that breaks the contract (the breaching party) will pay the other party.

Each of these and other possible remedies have their own complexities. You need to make sure you understand clearly what they mean and how they will affect you before you sign the contract.