Tag Archives: EU negotiation

Not agreeable, May

Grumpy is not a lawyer. However, in his business life he negotiated a large number of individual and quite complex contracts, and over the years became familiar with some elements of sound drafting.

Often, there was a clash of ‘red lines’¬†of the parties and deadlock in the discussions. Both sides did have a motivation to ‘fill or kill’ and agreement, and there was always a temptation to defer facing down the core difficulties, in the hope that the situations surrounding them never occurred. It’s called wishing the problem away.

Bitter experience, however, soon evidenced that this was an illogical and very dumb approach. If the parties could not agree on something at the outset, they were unlikely to do so in the future, and the elephant in the room was likely to trample one of the parties at some point.

A classic fudge for deferment was to include in the contract an ‘agreement to agree’ at some point in the future should the circumstance causing the contention occur. This sounded plausible enough, whereby the parties would somehow sit round a table with coffee and digestive biscuits to act with good faith to resolve the issue they could not agree on before.

That the very illogicality of the notion was ever considered reflects the desperation the weaker side had to put ink on the contract.

Grumpy soon learned (aided by his excellent lawyers) never to even contemplate this. If the red lines were irreconcilable it was necessary to turn to an always available alternative to a negotiated agreement – walk out. He did so on more than one occasion, and never once regretted it.

Mrs May, along with the might of the legal capabilities of government and the civil service are potentially about to sign a document containing an ‘agreement to agree’. Nothing could be more indicative of May’s weakness, pusillanimity, hubris and stupidity on a matter which is so key to the country and its citizens. She should walk away.