Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio August
The Law & the Planner
By Jonathan T. Howe,
TAKING CONTRACTS ABROAD
What parts of your U.S. agreement apply when you hold the
When a meeting is scheduled outside the United States, many
planners panic, afraid the contract clauses they’re used to won’t
be applicable overseas. Can U.S. agreements be exported? The answer
Some of what is included in contracts within the U.S. has little or
no legal applicability to offshore programs, but there might be a
practical reason to include them.
For example, a clause addressing the Americans With Disabilities
Act has no applicability outside the United States. Nevertheless,
meeting professionals might wish to include provisions as to
accessibility on the part of the facility they have chosen. Some
countries now mirror the requirements of ADA in their own business
Also, the issue of liquor liability might be handled in an
entirely different way overseas. While the standards we are used to
might not apply in the country where the event is being held, you
should still insist that the agreement include certain basic
responsibilities on the part of the provider and server. On the
subject of music use, in the United States the sponsoring
organization has the responsibility to obtain the license.
Elsewhere in the world, it is generally the facility that has the
Deposits, while not a normal requirement in this country, do take
on a different role for international programs. For example, some
hotels in Europe and elsewhere will insist on a deposit of up to
100 percent before the program begins.
Questions always arise as to how meeting professionals should
handle this while protecting the monies their organization has put
forward should the hotel or facility be unable to meet its duties
under the contract. There are two possible steps planners can take:
Either establish an escrow account or provide for a standby letter
In an escrow account, you deposit 100 percent of the required
funds. An agreement is then signed by the depositing party and the
requiring party. An escrow agent holds the funds, subject to the
terms and conditions of the agreement.
These deals can be complicated by such issues as whether the
supplier performed its services adequately. When there is a
dispute, the escrow agent might refuse to release the funds until
all issues are resolved.
The second alternative is the standby letter of credit. This is
simply an agreement with a bank or financial institution that it
will guarantee financial performance should the defaulting party
who provided the standby letter of credit (your organization) fail
to meet its obligation to pay. Similar to an escrow agreement, the
standby letter of credit does delineate the obligations of the
supplier. Should service fall below the standards set in the
agreement, the standby letter will not be dispersed. A standby
letter of credit’s advantage is that no monies need to be put
forward before the event. There will be a service charge of 1 or 2
percent of the total value of the letter. Normally a standby letter
of credit is backed by an account, line of credit or similar
security held by the bank that issues the letter.
ASK FOR HELPJonathan T.
Howe, Esq., is a senior partner in the Chicago and
Washington, D.C., law firm of Howe & Hutton, Ltd., which
specializes in meetings, travel and hospitality law. Legal
questions can be e-mailed to him at email@example.com.
When planning an event offshore, doing one’s homework is key.
Negotiation strategies are different, terminology is not the same
and the culture is not generally what we are used to dealing with.
Always seek out competent advice both from the business as well as
the legal side. While we can export our meetings, our rules might
not survive the trip.
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