35 - October 2009
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Loop de Loophole
-How to get out of a contract
We all try to do the right thing and act honourably even if it includes some sacrifice on our part. For instance, if you make a bargain you stick to it.
However, it normally depends on exactly how much sacrifice. Usually, if it is going to cost under say two thousand dollars most people, not all, will reluctantly grin and bear it. Over that amount clients want their lawyer to find a loophole in a contract.
Parties entering into a contract owe a duty of good faith to the other. This means that they must not do anything to hamper the other achieving the benefit intended under the contract i.e. if you make a bargain you must stick to it.
If, a judge thinks that you deliberately scuppered the deal you will lose. Therefore, the more desperate you are to get out of the deal the more enthusiastic your lawyer must appear to carry it out. Meanwhile, the opposing lawyer will try to look through your lawyer’s enthusiasm for signs of treachery.
This explains why your own lawyer is so negative and paranoid. If, you had to put up with this sort of thing year after year, decade after decade you would be miserable and cantankerous too.
Fortunately, for the desperate party, contracts rarely turn out the way that the parties planned. With a bit of luck your lawyer should be able to allow you a dignified exit from the contract claiming it was the other party’s fault. It only needs to raise enough doubt to make the other party think twice before suing you.
As a client, all you need to remember is never to pick up your ball and walk away from a contract or worse still, tell the other party what you think of him/her and his/her contract. Got it?
(c)Paul Brennan 2009.
THE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (DIL)
If you could sum up your DIL in two words would they be “gin-soddened”?
But, for your kindliness and the restraint that you have shown over the years, the family relationship would have gone to pot.
You worry that on your death if you leave your money to your son, she will blow it. What if by the time of your death they have split up and her lawyer claims the inheritance as part of the divorce settlement?
You could leave it to your grandchildren but you know what that lot, are like.
One way is to leave your money in your will in trust to your son and grandchildren only. This is called a “testamentary trust”. You can appoint your son as trustee but it may be better to appoint your brother or your lawyer to be the trustee with discretion as to how much to give each year, if anything. If you are feeling cruel, appoint your accountant.
There is a lot of satisfaction in immediately telling your DIL your succession arrangements. But she may seek revenge by trying to commit you to a home at the first signs of dementia.
Therefore, it is best to leave it as a surprise. Alternatively, tell her you are just thinking about it and see if she picks up her act.
But, if this all seems too hard there is a lot to be said for telling her that you are leaving your money to your son in the usual way and then proceeding to spend it frivolously.
(c)Paul Brennan 2009.
The murderer and the bail application
To be a regular client of a criminal firm you not only need to persistently commit crimes (allegedly or otherwise) but also be caught, often. As criminals reach their mid 20s many find it difficult to maintain this level of commitment.
In the London criminal firm where I worked as a newly qualified lawyer there was such a client. Although, in his mid 30s, when he was not allegedly stealing in a violent sort of way he was being arrested for driving offences and assaults. Eventually, he committed a murder and changed law firms.
My boss who was prone to hysterics, took this badly and marched down the police station with the words “he is not going to get away with this”. He angrily confronted the alleged murderer in his police cell and insisted that he change back to our firm, which he did.
Next morning, the client was understandably disappointed when my boss sent me to court to represent him.
The client wanted me to make a bail application and I recall saying “We may not get it” in the hope that me might decide that he would leave it. He didn’t.
In the circumstances the bail application, apart from the fact that it was refused, went quite well. He was later convicted.
My boss continued to be let down. The local Italian cafe owner had a 16 year old daughter who was kept on a very short lead. The father sent her for two weeks of work experience at our firm. On her first day she agreed to a date with a client charged with administering date rape drugs. This was quickly cancelled by my boss. On Day Two she wore less clothing and more make up. From that point, we all lived in a state of fear until she was returned safe and sound to the unsuspecting father at the end of the work experience.
Two years later my boss died of a brain tumour. His increasingly paranoid behaviour did not seem to put off our clients, in fact, they really liked it.
Lawyer’s Telephone message
Please listen to the following five options.
Press 1 to ask how much a standard will costs, only to die 30 years later without getting one.
Press 2 to ask about getting rid of your spouse, only to decide you will give him another chance.
Press 3 for telling your neighbour where to get off and then having to move house as a result.
Press 4 for advice on bankruptcy or guaranteeing your children’s debts and/or both.
Press 5 to sue your enemy for defamation etc., only to be told you cannot afford it.
To speak to a lawyer press “o” and wait.
(c) Paul Brennan 2009 author of the “10 Greatest Legal Mistakes in Business…and how to avoid them”. His blog can be found at http://www.101reasonstokillallthelawyers.com/
The content of this site and the Law & Disorder eZine is to give you legal basics and in some instances included unashamedly to try and make you laugh. In law it is sometimes difficult to work out what is serious and what is just for fun. Therefore, if you plan to do anything legal, rely on your own lawyer’s advice or instruct me to look at the particular facts of your case. Not only will I deny responsibility for the legal content but also for some of the jokes.
© Paul Brennan 2009.
Author of the Law is an Ass...Make Sure it Doesn't Bite Yours!