The wording of documents can be critical. So what can you do about a badly drafted legal document?
Court Orders; Settlement Agreements; Easements; Deeds of Trust; Wills; Share Purchase Agreements; In fact, any legal document. They all have one thing in common – they have to be drafted by someone. And they usually have to be very carefully drafted to reflect what has actually been agreed. A badly drafted legal document can cause serious problems; and serious expense. So what can you do about a badly drafted legal document if a problem arises?
The answer to that question will depend upon the nature of the document and the type of drafting error that has been made.
If a Will is badly drafted for instance, it can have the opposite effect to what the testator intended. In some instances, a Court may be prepared to rectify a Will, but even if does rectify it, there are still the legal costs involved in getting the Court’s approval.
A Settlement Agreement can be used to formalise the terms upon which a dispute has been settled. The last thing any party wants is for the dispute to flare up again because the terms of the agreement are unclear or a clause is omitted. This may cause further loss as the parties either renegotiate or litigate again.
Deeds of Trust too. Is the property held as joint tenants or tenants in common? And if sold, there should be no doubt about how the funds are to be divvied up. Even simple drafting errors can lead to the trust funds being swiftly dissipated as clarity is sought.
In fact, any legal document needs to be clearly and carefully worded, taking into account the instructions and wishes of the parties, while considering potential difficulties in the future. If it isn’t, it can easily cause delay, stress and, above all, costs in trying to get it sorted out. And in some cases, the error will not be rectifiable, resulting in serious prejudice to the party affected.
It is because of these potential consequences that people turn to a solicitor – or even accountant – to draft such documents. Sadly, as much as we would like to think otherwise, solicitors, accountants, barristers, or indeed, any professional, are fallible and can produce a badly drafted legal document.