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14 July 2009 @ 02:30 pm
On contracts  
Amitha recently was looking at some contract writing work, and one of the potential contracts (from IC Romance, in case you're interested...) was quite odd. It contained 8 pages worth of entirely reasonable terms, but in the middle of the "Termination by Notice" section, contained this gem:

This Agreement can be modified by the Contracting Party [note: that's them] at any moment and can be terminated by either party in writing with 14 days notice.

Is that for real? What is the point of a contract that can be modified at any moment, unilaterally, by one party? (I'd take that to mean without any notice or ability to opt out, as well...) When called out on that sentence, they claimed that it's a generic contract, and they will not agree to any change in the terms whatsoever.

I do hope they aren't actually taking advantage of less acute readers of their contracts, but it seems very sleazy to put that kind of wording in a contract, even if you aren't planning to use it for immediately evil purposes. I'm certain they would never agree to a contract that she could modify unilaterally at any moment! I really can't imagine doing business under those terms, and it does somewhat make me wonder whether they're even a legitimate company.

PS: A Star Wars quote seems somewhat apropos: "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."
(Deleted comment)
fuhm on July 15th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
> claimed ownership of *anything* we did while an employee there

Yeah, that seems unfortunately somewhat common.

I had a summer internship at Curl a number of years back (who amazingly seem to still be around!), and they were interested in keeping me around part time after the summer ended.

But their employment contract claimed that they would own anything I did, no matter when, no matter where, no matter related to them or not, unless I explicitly excluded it beforehand! I grudgingly went along with that for the summer (as I could exclude whatever I wanted, and I was pretty sure I knew what other projects I'd be working on for fun during the summer...).

But, it would still be in effect if I stayed for a part time job! And they were entirely unwilling to change a single word of the contract. I don't know what the deal with that is, I really expect companies to be willing to modify employment contracts slightly in order to hire good people...

Anyways, needless to say, I turned that opportunity down. (Plus I was pretty sure they weren't going to be around too long anyways, given their business model...)

Fortunately, my current employer (ITA Software) has no such clause in the contract.
gpetersgpeters on July 19th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
speak to a lawyer
I'm no lawyer, but if you speak to one, I bet he'll say: "No, you cannot give someone in a contract the ability to alter it without notice." If they change it, notify you, and you later act, after receving notification in a way demonstrating acceptance of the contract (sending them work, cashing a check, whatever), I bet the new terms stick. But if you say "No, stop" when you hear about something crazy, I don't see how you can _possibly_ be held to it.

A lawyer might know better, but I'll bet you a loonie.
fuhm on July 20th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
Re: speak to a lawyer
That's probably true if they try to change something that requires certain action or lack of action on your part -- it'd perhaps be hard to enforce that in court if they tried.

But let's say they try to change something simpler: the amount they're going to pay for the work. They just fail to send the agreed upon amount, and claim they changed the contract to allow for not paying you anything.
gpetersgpeters on July 21st, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
Re: speak to a lawyer
I think you'd have a claim against them in that case, as long as you didn't submit work AFTER getting this sleazy notification.