“Well, you seem to have read every word of this contract” said the other party’s lawyer. Of course I had – that’s what I was being paid for! That said, I was well aware that my client’s bargaining power was very weak and that my mumerous objections to their long-winded, very one-sided contract may well be rejected.
So, how do you proceed in such a situation? How do you negotiate a contract (or someone else’s terms and conditions) without power?
Well, in this particular case, we agreed to meet the other party and their lawyer for a round-table discussion. I then began by explaining that I was a collaborative negotiator – I was not ‘playing games’, I simply wanted to achieve a contract which was fair and reasonable and reflected what BOTH parties actually intended. After this, we went though all the proposed changes one by one, and the other party’s lawyer had to agree that they were, indeed, reasonable.
We didn’t get ALL the changes we asked for, but in most cases the other party’s original contractual position could not be defended. Accordingly, the changes were agreed and we achieved the ideal solution – a win:win situation leading to long-term trust and a reduced likelihood of disputes.