Hassan Hachem: a word given is stronger than a contract

At a time when more and more relationships between men are governed by writings, laws, regulations, decrees, directives and other conventions and contracts and that the value of money seems to be the value par excellence, we can have the impression that the trust that two professionals have in each other is luxury. That would be the icing on the cake.

One of the characteristics of so-called modern economies is the role of the written word. Written on ordinary paper or written on a digital medium, writing dominates everything, the written rules everything. The amount of the guarantees that the insurance offers you, the conditions of exit of a contract with a telephone operator, the level of commitment of a subcontractor, the maximum restocking time that an industrialist owes to a distribution giant ... everything must be negotiated, written, signed, countersigned and scealed.

When starting out in business and starting a business with a close co-worker or promotion, all of this seems superfluous, expensive (because you often need the services of a lawyer) and seems to the loss of time, in this delicate phase of starting a business.

With time passing, hazards happening, the discovery of the true nature of business relations becoming crystal clear, we realize that the shareholders' agreement that we negotiated in the first place, could have avoided two partners to tear up a few years later when it turned out that the adventure between the two had to end, the differences had deepened over time. This shareholders' agrement, which appeared so formal and foresaw the worst situations, would have prevented the outgoing partner from doing everything to sink the company that would be left in the hands of the remaining partner, on the grounds that the valuation of the shares offered by the remaining did not reflect the work done by the outgoing partner.

With time, we realize that the relationship with this provider that we appreciated so much when the collaboration began, has deteriorated and that the collaboration appears sufficiently unbalanced to both parties, so neither of them do not feel satisfied anymore. A minor disagreement may then lead to a breach of the relationship, the failure to pay decided unilaterally by the party who considers that the service was poorly or not returned, all may result in the commercial court. This contract detailing the exact scope of the service, the specific responsibilities of each party or the modalities of rupture, which unfortunately we never took the time to finalize could perhaps be allowed to reconcile the points of view of both parties through objective data or could have simplified their separation.

So we see that contracts that are not pleasant to write for any professional, have a fundamental role to play in the prevention or resolution of conflict that does not fail to happen in the world of business, no offense to people who abhor legal formalism.

A large amount of energy is ultimately saved through written contracts.

However, do these contracts replace oral commitments that have long allowed professionals to work together? Do contracts replace the word given by one professional to another? Do they replace the trust that can be given to a person?

This is certainly not the point of view of many entrepreneurs, like Hassan Hachem, a Franco-Lebanese serialentrepreneur who made his career in Africa in the construction and distribution industries: "The word given is stronger than any contract, because it is the trust that, in the long term, allows the most fruitful collaborations ". And Hassan Hachem continues: "In many African countries where the judicial system is not strong enough, a company will sometimes have difficulty in asserting the prerogatives that will have granted him a contract, where the reputation and the word of a man are more engaging because they are valuable assets that one seeks to protect over time. "

Contracts and writings have a different role than speech. The contract, which theoretically makes it possible to fix things, is not always opposable, in Africa because the system is what it is, but also in Europe where the judicial system works a little better but remains expensive to operate. Costly in hard cash (the least judicial procedure amounts to several thousand euros), also costly in time (preparation of files, meetings of parts) and energy (worries caused by the trial, grilled neurons in scaffolding strategies). In many cases, it is more profitable for the company to waive the requirement of compliance with a clause in a contract before the courts than to win the case.

The role of contracts is also different from that of the given word, by their object. An entrepreneur works with another entrepreneur because he wants to work with him. If he wants to, it is because the service or the product that will be provided is not only objectively necessary to the first entrepreneur, but also because the entrepreneur thinks that the collaboration will be well, that there will have no problem, that things will naturally follow their course. The word given and the confidence associated with this word are guarantees of peace of mind. A contract can not guarantee the peace of mind of a professional.

So we can see that the contract can not do everything. The word given either. The good functioning of the business world is at the same time based on one and the other.


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