Monday, December 28, 2015

Let's shake on it

the classic pinkie swear
Remember back when you were a kid and you'd do the classic "pinkie swear" to get someone to do (or not do) something? Later, you got older and needed to make a more iron clad contract, people'd spit in their hands and "shake on it."  Kinda sick but I guess the spittle worked like a "glue" and made a stronger agreement.  I suspect there is a reason that these days contracts are dozens of pages long and cost thousands of dollars in legal fees just to get the verbiage just right.

Knowing how litigation works these days (i.e. post industrial age), this all seems twilight zone-ish when held up against a case I read the other day.  Seems once upon a time McDonalds owner, Ray A. Kroc, and Central Ice Cream Company of Chicago shook hands to seal an agreement that McDonald's would sell an ice cream cone called "Triple Ripple in its restaurants for 20 years.  Two (2) years later, McDonalds "broke" that agreement and, a few years later, Central went bankrupt. Subsequently, Central sued McDonalds and at trial, Central's attorney made a play for his client saying to the jurors, "put honor back in a handshake (it worked and Central won to the tune of $52 million)." 

I suspect there are some old-timers out there in blogland that think we should go back to a simpler time when shaking hands was good enough.  Problem is, business life is rarely that simple anymore and there are too many variables in business to say a handshake is "good enough."  

Fact is, contracts and contract law are getting more and more dicey all the time.  While neighborhood kids might be able to pull off a solid pinkie swear, I'm betting multinational corporations will want to have their attorneys check out most any agreement.  Yeah, most probably.  

In any event, Happy New Year, everyone and I'll see you in a week.