11th Sep 2013

Even billionaires have to deal with broken promises and breached contracts. This spring, Donald Trump was accused by an 87-year-old investor of reneging on incentives promised as part of a luxury condominium development contract. The Donald responded that – at the time their contract was negotiated – the woman tried to change some of the contract provisions but, when he refused, continued with the real estate purchase, binding herself to its provisions.

Businesses and individuals in Missouri rely on contracts every day. It does not matter if you are dealing with multi-million dollar purchases, contracts for services, employment agreements or are formalizing a friendly handshake; specific contract provisions determine the course of your agreement – and its demise.

Frequently, for a variety of reasons, contracts are breached – broken – either intentionally or unknowingly. It is vital that you understand your rights and that you can exit from an agreement if necessary or recover damages from a party who fails to hold up his or her end of the bargain.

Look before you leap

When negotiating any type of agreement for yourself or your business, it is very important to review carefully all of the contract provisions. Oral promises or side agreements should be integrated into a written agreement or they may not hold up in a court of law in the event of a dispute. Pay special attention to the following:

  • Key dates such as renewals and anniversaries.
  • Parties to the contract – are the right individuals or businesses obligated to the contract?
  • Duties and responsibilities of each party.
  • Termination clauses and deadlines.

Upon executing a contract, your company may be obligated to promises it cannot keep or that may be too costly to fulfill. Practice due diligence and look before you leap.

Count the cost

Breaching a contract can be costly whether you are the one seeking to end the agreement or not. Do not rush into a decision until you have carefully counted the cost of the possible implications and do the math before you serve notice or terminate the deal. You may find that, in the long term, it may be better to proceed as agreed.

Consider all options

Before making a firm decision to back out of a contract or force another party to fulfill its obligations, consider all available options. Be willing to be flexible if you wish to preserve the relationship with other parties to the agreement. It may be that the best option for you is to stick it out and see the deal through to its completion.

Consult an attorney

Seek the counsel of an experienced St. Louis business attorney when you have questions regarding a business contract. A lawyer knowledgeable about corporate and business law matters can help you draft or review a proposed contract, as well as guide you through the termination or contract dispute process.

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