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If you were asked to sign an agreement containing the language below, you would think a joke was being played on you:
BY SIGNING BELOW YOU ARE GIVING YOUR LIFE
SAVINGS TO [FILL IN LEAST FAVORITE PERSON]
You would think the joke continued if above the signature block on the next page of the agreement contained the following:
BY SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT YOU ARE AGREEING TO:
(ii) LK AKJKJADFE; and
As much as these examples may bring a smile to your face because of the respective absurdity or incongruity of each, they, or more detailed examples of the same, can be found in any number of breach of contract cases.
With respect to the first, many people haphazardly review a document before signing it, not taking the time to read each and every paragraph or appreciate the significance and legal consequence of each term. What inevitably takes place, most likely at the signer’s deposition, is the signer testifies: “I didn’t think this was going to be enforced.” The reason contracts have many paragraphs is because the party or parties intend each and every term and paragraph to be enforceable against the other. By signing an agreement, the signatory is agreeing to each of the terms set forth in the document.
The second example comes into play more often than not in business transactions involving individuals. The irony here is for each person that reads the above unintelligible example thinking “who would sign an agreement with language they don’t understand”, three others have just signed contracts containing language the signers did not read or simply do not understand.
Courts have made it very clear a party is responsible for and will be held accountable to the terms and corresponding obligations set forth in an agreement that is signed by the party. Naiveté and ignorance are not proper or acceptable defenses.
Take the time to read documents put in front of you that require your signature. If you do not understand a term or reasoning for the inclusion of a paragraph, ask as many questions as you need to so you understand the content. If asking the questions you still do not feel comfortable with the answer or you still do not have an understanding as to how that term or paragraph will effect you, do not sign the agreement.
Otherwise, the last laugh may very well be at you.
If you have questions relating to this topic or other contractual matters, please contact The Law Offices of Barry M. Bordetsky by calling Barry M. Bordetsky at (800) 998-7705 or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.