Contracts Excellence for Non-Legal Professionals
Professionals and managers with a background other than law – particularly with technical expertise in construction and engineering – now deal regularly with contracts as contract managers and administrators, project managers, purchasing, supply and procurement officers, tender evaluation personnel, finance officers, claims assessors and those involved in general management. This shift away from a legal base is a relatively modern phenomenon, and particularly in the Gulf has only been prevalent since the late 1980s or early 1990s. It appears to have come about due to the rapid expansion of commercial activity, the huge rise in construction and major infrastructure projects, and the increase generally of domestic education and enterprise. Policies of both localisation and enhanced regular training regimes have brought a real sense of self-confidence in corporate endeavour and international trade, and this may have been reflected in reducing the need to exercise caution absent express approval of an activity from the legal department of a particular business concern.
Certainly lawyers have an important role to play in ensuring regulatory compliance, the maintenance of industry standards which are legally binding, keeping contract and associated precedents up to date, and dealing with acquisitions, corporate restructuring and refinancing, due diligence processes, and dispute processing, but non-legal professionals are now actively engaged in initiating and negotiating commercial deals, procurement and tendering, contract drafting, contracts administration and claims management.
To that end, it is vital that non-legal professionals have sufficient understanding of those contract issues they are likely to face in the course of their work, and thereby improve their overall management skills. Every organisation relies on contracts to protect the interests of the company and manage risk effectively. It is imperative that everyone in the organisation understands the issues and processes involved in a contracting scenario to properly contextualise their work, and to enhance their performance of it.
Most of us are engaged in private contracting every day, whether we realise it or not. Each time we shop, travel by a mode of transport which is not our own, purchase goods or services using the internet, or provide something to someone for payment, we are entering into a contract. Most of the time, it creates an enforceable and binding obligation. And even more so if we are doing it in the context of running a business or acting for an employer.
Therefore it is essential for non-legal professionals to recognise the structure and purpose of contracts, and to learn how different structures can be used in different situations. In so doing the ability of managers to communicate with contracts personnel is improved, as is the ability to understand the needs of lawyers.
Particularly useful is the ability to construct and control contract negotiations and outcomes, and to realise some of the pitfalls that exist within commonly-used contract clauses. Such clauses do not always mean what they appear to say; they may have no effect, even though they are there.
It is important to understand the risk a company is bearing, particularly if it is in a weak bargaining position at the outset of the negotiations, or where it has to accept a standard form agreement and in fact there are no negotiations. And imperatively, what to do when something goes wrong, a relationship breaks down, a demand is made for more time or more money, and the budget and timetable come under extreme pressure. Learning how to use the contract to protect your company’s interests then becomes an essential part of the work.
This Contracts Excellence for Non-Legal Professionals training course in London is intended to allow professionals and managers with a background other than law or contracts to better understand the processes and issues involved with contracting, and therefore improve their overall management skills. Every organisation relies on contracts to protect the interests of the company and manage risk effectively. It is imperative that everyone in the organisation understands the issues and processes involved in a contracting scenario.