A Short Play About Contracts

Cast: William, owner of yoga business; Sarah, friendly web designer; Charles, evil landlord.

Act 1, Scene 1

William: “Hi Sarah, I’d like a new website please”

Sarah: “Sure. To get started, please would you pay 50% in advance in accordance with my terms and conditions?”

William: “No problem, I’ll transfer the deposit today.”

Act 1, Scene 2

Sarah: “Hi William, Thanks for the deposit. I sent you the draft designs a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t get any feedback. Please would you let me know what you want me to do next?”

Sarah: “Hi William, I haven’t heard from you in a while, I hope everything is OK?”

Sarah: “Hey, William, are you there?”

Act 2, Scene 1

William: “Hi Sarah, Sorry for the delay in replying. Our landlord gave us one month’s notice to vacate the building. We don’t know what’s happening with the yoga studio. We don’t know what’s happening with the business. We have had to put the new website on hold.”

Sarah: “Oh.”

This is based on a real scenario.

Happily for Sarah, the contract between her and William meant that she has been paid up to date for the work she has done.

Unhappily for William, he is out of pocket unless he is able to renegotiate with Charles (the landlord), or find a new venue, and resurrect the web design project.

Happily for Charles, his contract with William means he only has to give one month’s notice to regain access to his own building.

Unhappily for William, the contract between him and Charles does not allow him enough time to find a new venue, move all his classes, equipment, students and teachers, and refresh all his marketing to show the new address.

Poor William. His yoga business is dependant on having a venue to operate from. He and his team are at real risk.

Drawing up formal contracts between your suppliers, sub-contractors and clients may seem like overkill, especially in the early stages of the relationship.

But a contract is no more than is a written agreement designed to protect you just in case things change. It’s your solicitor’s job to think of all the ‘what ifs’, and put them in writing so no one gets a nasty surprise.

In this case, William could have negotiated a contract with Charles that included a longer notice period, say, six months.

What’s more, Sarah could have added a clause to ensure that William pays her in full, even if the project is never completed.

Meanwhile, Charles is laughing all the way to the bank.

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