J.D. Devlin: Contracts Made Easy

negotiating contracts

Deciding what to include in a contract can be complicated. Which clauses are crucial and which can be left out? Do you really need an addendum? Or is it time for an amendment? Lisa Sommer Devlin, founder of Devlin Law Firm P.C., spoke to Smart Meetings about the ins and outs of creating a contract that works for both you, your guests and your venue.

The Basics of Contract Creation

When it comes to creating a contract, it can be easy to forget the basic purpose: to state what each party must do and what happens if they don’t. Should one party fall through on their promises, the law will remedy it. And should one party step away, a third party should be able to come in and understand what the agreement between the two parties is.

One thing to keep in mind during your negotiations: don’t go overboard. While dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s is crucial, you must make sure you are not asking too much of the other party. Both sides want to execute a good event and reap the benefits, so make sure you’re acknowledging if you’re being unreasonable.

Listen to the entire webinar with Lisa Sommer Devlin on demand here.

Where #MeToo Comes into Play

Based on news headlines today, it can be tempting to add a clause surrounding sexual harassment. However, it’s unnecessary most of the time, Devlin says. Hotels often have their own policies, and including your own clause does not mean that they must follow it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important for your organization to have one. It can help save you from liability later on, and others will see that you do not condone inappropriate actions, but you may not be able to enforce it on others.

In Case of Emergency

Venues will have their own emergency procedures and policies. While some may be confidential (think: security camera placement), always ask your venue about their practices. Should your event be occurring near or during an emergency, work closely with your venue to decide whether your event will be affected. Force majeure—circumstances that prevent fulfillment of a contract—is standard with any venue contract.

To Disturb or Not to Disturb

It’s in your best interest to avoid addressing the topic of do not disturb, especially in light of recent tragedies. The hotel has a legal responsibility for the safety of their guests, and there is an obligation to prevent disaster from happening. Potential human trafficking, dangerous activity and illness are all legitimate reasons for hotels to enter a room. If a certain guest has issues, refer them to the hotel directly, rather than being the messenger.

Addendum vs. Amendment

Put simply, an addendum clarifies an existing contract, while an amendment changes or adds to the contract. For example, if you have booked 50 rooms at a hotel, an addendum would be a request for specific floors; an amendment would be a request for 75 rooms. Neither should be used to add desired terms to another party’s contract. Work together rather than adding to each other’s contract.

If you change any term, review the entire document to make sure it doesn’t impact other terms, such as concessions or cancellation. If it does impact, you must add an amendment. If it does not, state that it stays the same.