We enter into contracts everyday without even thinking about it – when we pay for services, sign up for memberships, and on and on it goes. As a professional artist, there will likely come a time when you need to enter into a formal contract for your services. But if you’ve never been down that road before, the process of creating a contract may feel overwhelming. How do you make sure the contract is valid? What do you want out of the agreement and how do you ensure you’ll get it?
Karl Dlugosch, a corporate-commercial lawyer with Benson Buffett , will walk participants through how to develop a contract during his workshop on October 9 at the Emera Innovation Exchange at MUN’s Signal Hill Campus. We caught up with Karl recently to get some pointers in advance of his session.
Business & Arts NL: For someone who has never had to create or develop a contract before, it may seem like a bit of a daunting task. What’s the most important thing for them to keep in mind when they’re starting out?
Karl Dlugosch: Think things through before. What are your goals to achieve in this agreement? If you don’t have a clear understanding of your own needs, negotiating the agreement will be confusing and miserable for everyone involved.
Business & Arts NL: From your experience, what’s the most common mistake people make when it comes to creating contracts?
KD: If it’s not a written agreement, the fact that it’s not reduced to writing. Keeping everything in writing makes it easier to remember what the terms are. If it is a written agreement, ambiguity. If the agreement was ambiguous to begin with, each party might have a different understanding of the agreement. If the parties really agreed when it was signed, if the wording is ambiguous then each party’s thoughts can drift away from the original meaning.
Business & Arts NL: If individuals run into trouble getting what’s entitled to them as per the agreement, what should they do and where can they turn for help?
KD: Fistfight? No, that creates even more problems. Ask a friend, but don’t create an echo chamber. Having an outsider think it through can give you some perspective on your position and whether or not it’s reasonable. Start communicating with the other party in an honest manner, preferably via email. If you can get the other party to understand your position, you might not need to go much further. If you can’t resolve it yourself, call PLIAN (the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador). They’ll refer you to a lawyer to give you some quick (and cheap) advice. Unless the friend you asked is really good at fighting…
Workshop: Artist Contracts: How to Develop Them
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 9 from 1-3pm
Location: Emera Innovation Exchange, Room B 1004
Price: Free for Business & Arts NL members, or $10 for non-members (includes a free 1-year Business & Arts NL artist membership)
Registration: Click here