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Poorly-Drafted Contracts in Breach of Contract Litigation

On Behalf of | May 15, 2019 | Firm News

Buffington Law Firm’s breach of contract attorneys have taken many breach of contract cases to trial, and have helped their clients enter into settlements of many others. In their purest form breach of contract cases can be simple: two (or more) parties entered into a contract, and each of the parties either fulfilled their obligations under the contract, or they did not. If only life were that simple.

There can be many reasons why things are often not that simple. In the past many years there has been a growing trend towards laypersons drafting their own contracts — more and more often by either using a document preparation service such as Legalzoom, or more often by simply downloading a “contract” from some internet site or other, or getting some old contract from a friend or business colleague, and then editing it to suit. Unfortunately, this often leads to unfortunate results.  In the past year we have had to litigate contracts that contained paragraphs that contradict each other, clauses that arguably contradicted the main purpose of the contract, and several other issues.  One contract was full of endless legal blather of dubious intelligibility or meaning.  Sometimes these “internet” contracts have been recycled so many times that they contain all manner of incomprehensible or downright irrelevant gibberish.  Laypersons often assume that this is necessary “legalese.”  Most often it is not.

One of the most dangerous types of breach of contract cases to take to court involves situations where it is debatable what the contract actually requires the parties to do. This is extremely common nowadays, unfortunately. When an attorney takes a breach of contract case the attorney normally formulates an understanding as to the requirements that the contract imposes upon the parties. However, when the contract is poorly drafted, the amount of risk in the lawsuit increases tremendously. There is absolutely no guaranty that a Judge will agree with the lawyers about what the contract means. Sometimes judges will hear all manner of extrinsic evidence to determine what the contract was or meant. In one such case that our Firm handled the Arbitrator’s ruling was incredibly far-fetched, to put it politely. In another case the Judge came up with a theory as to what the contract meant that was different than both sides! It is notorious among attorneys that different legal minds can look at a (poorly drafted) contract and derive different understandings as to what the contract means and requires. Truly, it can be an expensive error to skimp on the costs of an attorney in contract drafting. Contract drafting is no place for dabblers.

Of course, by the time the parties to a poorly-drafted contract are in a dispute, they are stuck with the contract.  If you are in this situation you will need an experienced breach of contract attorney.  We invite you to call our office for a free legal consultation.  All calls are with an experienced breach of contract litigation attorney, the call is protected by attorney-client privilege, and there is never any obligation or charge.