Contracts without very specific details of prices are not contracts. Many have learned the hard way by signing ‘agreements’ to supply grapes only to discover too late that the price paid is not the price that was discussed. For any contract to be valid and binding on both parties it must specify what is being offered, what has been accepted and what will be paid or provided in exchange for supply.
These three basic elements of any contract are known as ‘Offer, Acceptance and Consideration’. If each of these is not clearly spelled out and understood, don’t sign it. Always get advice from a solicitor or lawyer who understands contract law and even better, one who has had plenty of experience deciphering the pages and pages of confusing references, clauses and cross-references that characterise the majority of contracts presented to winegrowers these days. If a simple contract to supply grapes is longer than two pages you can be sure there is a purpose, which may not be in a grower’s best interests.
Riverland Wine has a very easy to read contract template. It’s a two-pager. It’s perfectly adequate and captures the three elements. Growers confounded by contracts that take longer than five minutes to read and understand are welcome to use the template to ‘simplify’ an offer and be confident that their interests as well as those of the buyer are protected. Simple contracts are also a great way of building trust between parties. There’s nothing worse than feeling you must sign a document that you can’t easily understand or that might be hiding something.
This week’s newsletter from the WGCSA has some very good information about contracts and what to look out for. The guide is available to download on the WGCSA website. Hard copies can be ordered by contacting WGCSA, phone 8351 4378 or email.