Lessons Learned #1: Sometimes it’s Best to Walk Away from the Contract

A long time ago, when I was working as a subcontractor, I was involved in a project that had gone bad. I had just finished attending a bitter mediation session in which I had settled my company’s modest claims for delay and some disputed extra work that had not been paid.

My customer, the general contractor on the project, had not fared as well, having lost a significant sum of money despite years of hard work.

During the car ride back to our offices (we had gone to the mediation together) he was understandably upset over the outcome, yet relieved that his ordeal had finally come to an end.

I took the opportunity to ask him what he could have done differently, now that he had the benefit of looking back. Without hesitation, he stated “we should have walked away from the contract when we were in negotiations.” He informed me that his company had spent over $50,000 in legal fees over several months in order to be able to execute the contract. That was in the early ‘80’s!

He said that his customer (a developer) was a group of lawyers who were intent on crafting a deal which was as one sided as possible. His company’s desire to build the project had overshadowed the need to have a fair contract and a workable relationship with his customer.

The “lesson learned”; he should have just walked away!

“A wise person does at once what a fool does at last.  Both do the same thing; only at different times.” – Lord Acton

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