Caveat Emptor. Always.
You’re about to enter into a new agreement. If you’re like most people, you do not have the knowledge to comprehend every provision nor the skill to ascertain whether or not the specified terms are in your best interests. And so this raises the following questions: have you done your due diligence? Have you considered all possible scenarios? Have you exercised your right to fully understand what you’re getting into?
This is caveat emptor.
Let the Buyer Beware
Caveat emptor is Latin for “let the buyer beware”. You probably already knew that. But what does this really mean? Simply put, this famed phrase means that it’s up to you to make an informed and educated decision about whether to buy or sign. When the deal is done and you’re left to face an unfavourable outcome, placing blame on the other party won’t get you very far in a court of law.
Is the notion of caveat emptor just? Our legal system certainly thinks so.
You’re in the Driver’s Seat
You have all the power in the world before you sign. But if you sign and commit yourself to a deal without fully comprehending the terms ahead of time, the courts show little mercy after the fact.
You do have the power not to sign.
You do have the power to negotiate.
You do have the power to hire competent legal counsel to protect yourself.
Whether you’re an experienced businessperson entering yet another corporate agreement, a first-time property buyer or a commercial tenant about to sign a new lease, the services of a legal professional are invaluable.
If you’re buying a business, have you confirmed the number of customers? Has the vendor been accessible and cooperative? Is there an excuse every time you dig for answers? You might be surprised to know how many executives and business owners sign contracts without careful review. When a final closing is imminent, it’s easy to assume that the agreement must be equitable to both parties. Think again.
Lacking any real legal expertise, it is unlikely that you have the ability to identify adverse conditions within an agreement, or more importantly, to recognize missing conditions whose inclusion is absolutely necessary.
But a lawyer does.