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Contracts: What to Look Out for and How Seeking Expert Advice is Worth it for You

1 min read

25 Aug 2021

Starting a new job, buying a house or starting a business can be an exhilarating time for people – often an exciting change. These moves frequently involve large financial shifts as well as new degrees of responsibility. So making sure you understand your obligations when entering into life-changing agreements or contracts is imperative to your own protection as well as success.

Here our contract lawyers explain a few key reasons why having a contract reviewed before you sign is essential in business and life.

Contracts in Business

If you’re running a business you will come across and exchange contracts often. You’ll have contracts with your employees, manufacturers, suppliers, independent contractors and business partners.

As each contract may have a different purpose the conditions should outline the purpose of the contract and responsibilities of each of the parties. It should also clearly act to pre-empt disputes and outline dispute resolution. Conditions should also be in place to protect your business if there is a contract default by one of the parties.

It’s important to understand the different nuances for each type of contract, whether they cover consumer or employment laws. You should always seek legal advice before signing a contract and make sure your business contracts are up to date to reflect any legislative updates. This will ensure your business is protected and the contracts are enforceable.

Negotiating Your Terms

A contract lawyer can help you negotiate better terms and make sure the agreement is fair. Before you sign a contract, there may be a negotiation phase where you may request clauses be inserted, deleted or altered to get the best deal.

As a business owner, you can get help from a contract lawyer that understands the different areas of law that the contract covers. For example, employment contracts are affected by many different types of legislation that your lawyer will need to consider.

Avoiding Litigation

Having lawyers that handle contract disputes and understand where contracts fail or are ambiguous give you an advantage to getting the best contract drafted and negotiated.

Hiring a contract lawyer to review your contract can save you significant amounts of money if you find yourself in a dispute about contract terms. These discrepancies usually surface because one party has either breached the terms of their contract or terms in the contract itself are unclear.

The trade-off is nominal – not only can you lose out on an ongoing commercial relationship or opportunity you can be involved in a dispute trying to assert or defend your rights.

Understanding Employment Contracts

Most employees enter into an employment contract. This acts as a safeguard that the parties know their rights and responsibilities. Employment contracts should outline the key elements of your relationship with your employer or employee.

For employers you should have the right employment agreements that suit your industry type and the type of employment such as casual, contractor or full time employee. Employment disputes and issues can leave you exposed to financial and reputational loss. Our employment lawyers make sure that your contracts that we prepare are going to protect your business.

As an employee if you are presented with an employment contract there are a few things you need to consider:

  • Understand your probation clause. Most employers will insert a probation clause into your employment contract – usually about 3 months – for both parties to judge whether full-time employment is suitable. During this period either party can terminate the employment relationship without having to give a reason, nor be subject to any legal consequences.
  • Don’t rush into signing straight away. There’s nothing wrong with asking for some time before you sign to ensure you understand all the terms and conditions entered into the employment contract. Some conditions to look for in an employment contract are ongoing versus fixed term employment, disciplinary clause, termination clause, restraint of trade-restrictions and tax. If you find things you don’t understand, it may pay dividends later down the track to get in touch with a contract lawyer for assistance.

Understanding the Difficulty of Getting Out of Contracts

Once you have put pen to paper it can be extremely difficult to terminate a contract without penalties. Contracts can be amended or renegotiated but this is often more costly than just getting contract advice in the first instance.

Where you have a dispute or the other party is not fulfilling their obligations under the contract there are remedies and ways to try and terminate the contract. Before you do, you should get advice about whether you can terminate the contract. Without clear and proper legal grounds the other party can seek compensation and damages.

Experienced contract dispute lawyers will be able to give you a range of options of how to negotiate your way through a contract dispute.

Advice for Peace of Mind

If you require legal advice on an employment agreement or other commercial contracts, we at PCL Lawyers can help. Our Melbourne-based contract lawyers are experts at drafting, reviewing and handling disputes for various commercial and personal contracts.

Whatever the case, you want to be sure that you have experienced and knowledgeable contract lawyers in your corner. This is exactly what you get with our firm.

Contact one of our team on 1300 907 335 or complete an online enquiry form and we will be in contact with you promptly.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for general information purposes and may not apply to your situation. This information should not be relied upon for legal, tax or accounting advice. Your individual circumstances will alter any legal advice given. The views expressed may not reflect the opinions, views or values of PCL Lawyers and belong solely to the author of the content. © PCL Lawyers Pty Ltd.

If you require legal advice specific to your situation please speak to one of our team members today.

About The Author - Glenn Duker

Glenn Duker is Managing Partner, and founder, of PCL Lawyers. Glenn has a Bachelor of Laws / Arts from the University of Melbourne and was admitted to practice more than 25 years ago. He has...

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