As a corporate commercial lawyer practicing in Nigeria, I have reviewed lots of agreements for clients and interfaced directly with the lawyers on the other side. One of the very many annoying things I have noticed about lawyers reviewing agreements is the necessity to comment on the document even when it is crystal clear that the agreement has been properly drafted. This attitude is what I call the “we must be seen to be doing our job” attitude which (for want of a better expression) is very annoying to say the least.
So “what should we look out for when reviewing an agreement? When reviewing an agreement, the important things to look out for are:
- Whether the terms of the contract are favourable to the client;
- Does the contract reflect the agreed terms?
- Are there any legal issues that may arise in the future if not properly dealt with?
Once these are properly covered in the contract, there is no need to go digging through the words of the contract looking for unnecessary loopholes and making comments that just make the lawyer on the other side wonder at the reviewer’s legal competence. There is absolutely nothing wrong in sending an email to commend a colleague and just declaring the document fit for purpose.
Also, one very disturbing attitude I have noticed about lawyers when reviewing contracts is their penchant for reconstructing sentences or formatting documents. Unarguably, English language is the tool of our trade and its mastery beautifies our jobs, however, there is no gainsaying that reviewing an agreement should not be the moment when a lawyer tries to showcase his superior mastery of the use of the English language. In other words, there is no reason why a reviewer should reconstruct a simple correct sentence to a more beautiful one all in a bid to insert their red-mark seal on the document just “to be seen doing their jobs”.
As a corporate commercial lawyer, if you fall into this category of lawyers who feel redlining agreements make them look good to the other side, it is time to have a rethink.