the Zealous

25 Oct 22

In representing tech suppliers, service providers and developers, we often come across “time is of the essence” clauses in customer contracts that purport to apply to some or all obligations of the agreement. An example is, “Time is of the essence with respect to Developer’s compliance with all deliverable milestones.”
It’s tempting to ignore such clauses, in favor of “picking your battles” and focusing on clauses of more obvious import like the liability caps. But that could be a mistake. The point of a “time is of the essence” clause is to allow the customer to claim a right of termination, or even rescission, of the agreement if the vendor is merely an hour late in delivery.

19 Oct 22

Professor Tanya J. Monestier, in a thought-provoking piece entitled, Damages for Breach of a Forum Selection Clause, 59 Am. Bus. J. (2020), quite ably goes through the incentives for those inclined to breach mandatory forum selection clauses, and how little some courts do to redress the harm caused by such breach. Protracting litigation, erecting hurdles and forum shopping are obvious motivators. "The goal," the professor writes, is "placing strategic obstacles in the way of one’s opponent right from the beginning. The non-breaching party may decide that the light is simply not worth the candle and proceed in the non-designated forum ...."

15 Oct 22

In binding arbitration clauses, exceptions to the duty to arbitrate for injunctive relief claims are common, especially in confidentiality and technology license agreements. The intention is to ensure that the parties are free to pursue claims for emergency relief in court, notwithstanding that all other claims must be resolved via arbitration.

All too many arbitration clauses, however, fail to articulate the injunctive relief bypass in a way that would allow the parties to actually bypass arbitration and proceed directly to court, given that rules of arbitration universally vest the arbitrator with the power to determine the scope of arbitrability as a threshold matter.