Two brief tales of everyday lawyering life…
1. A buyer sets a deadline for a contract to be completed, and stresses to the seller that it can’t be moved. The seller’s lawyer drafts the contract, based on an earlier agreement between the parties, and sends it to the buyer’s lawyer in the US.
Two weeks later the US lawyer asks for some changes, which the seller’s lawyer agrees to. The seller’s lawyer circulates a final draft.
Two days before the deadline, the buyer emails the seller to say that the US lawyer has realised that he needs to have the TUPE clauses reviewed by a specialist lawyer in the UK. At 4pm the next day, the buyer forwards a set of extensive changes requested by the specialist lawyer.
The seller’s lawyer has holiday booked from the following day, but (not having remote tech) comes into the office on the first day of his break so that the contract can be completed to deadline. He marks up the clauses, adds a detailed commentary, and sends it off.
Four hours later, the seller’s lawyer hasn’t heard anything back. He calls the US lawyer to check when he will respond, and is told that it will be the following day, because the specialist lawyer is on holiday. The supposedly fixed deadline will be moved to accommodate this.
2. A long-running tender process has drawn to a weary end, with all bids submitted. The buyer delays their decision several times, and then unexpectedly releases revised contract documents. Responses are required a week later.
A bid manager downloads the revised documents (which run to 400 pages) from the bid portal and sends them to his lawyer. The lawyer spends most of a day reviewing them, during the course of which he realises that he’s seen most of the changes before.
So the lawyer contacts the buyer to ask if the contracts have been compared against the wrong versions. The buyer assures him that they haven’t, and that the right contracts have been uploaded to the portal.
So the lawyer checks back with the bid manager, who checks the portal and realises that he downloaded the wrong document. The lawyer now has no choice but to spend part of his weekend reviewing the documents.
So what? No animals were harmed in the making of these anecdotes, after all.
So nothing, I suppose. Everybody’s too busy, and everyone makes mistakes from time to time.
And we all have our excuses ready when that happens. It’s just that those excuses are sometimes the coldest comfort to the person on the receiving end.
I guess I’ll be trying harder in future to make sure that I don’t inflict that on other people.