An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.   This old adage has never been more appropriate then when discussing the importance of a well-written and well-thought-out contract.

In any contractual relationship, whether it is for personal or business purposes, the more details and contingencies that are covered in the contract the less that is left to chance or subject to interpretation by the other party’s attorney or the Courts.   The world of contracts can best be summed up by this one phrase: “If you create a loophole, they will find it!”

There can never be a contract, no matter how well written and thorough, that could resolve or anticipate every conceivable, potential dispute; therefore, every contract must rely on the good faith performance of the parties.

The goal, however, when drafting a contract, is to eliminate as many potential disputes as possible so that you minimize the likelihood or need for costly and time consuming litigation.

Most contractual litigation is the result of poorly worded or inartfully drawn contracts that create confusion and misinterpretations rather than from a willful disregard of a party’s contractual obligations.   These lawsuits drain the resources of all concerned and never accomplish for the parties what a well drawn and faithfully executed contract can accomplish.

Whenever a poorly drafted contract sends the parties to the courthouse, the Court determines what is best for the parties and the outcome is rarely as good as what the parties could have determined for themselves if they had taken more care to create a better contract.

Since entering into and enforcing a contract can be full of pitfalls and hidden traps for the unwary, it is highly recommended that you invest the time and money needed to obtain sound and experienced legal advice before signing any contract.   If you don’t do this, just remember, the cure is always more expensive then the prevention.

In the next installment, we will look at some of the specific principles of contract law.