How Emails Can Modify Your Partnership Agreement

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

More and more, courts are agreeing that email is a perfectly fine way to create a contract . . . or modify one you already have.  This 2008 case from New York, as reported by Brian Beckham, indicates that New York has certainly gotten on that bandwagon.

“It’s about time,” some of you may say. “Why bother with lengthy legal documents? Just let the parties work it all out.”

Here’s the problem: business owners may treat their email communications more casually than they would a printed letter. As a result, you could find that you’ve created a legally binding agreement (because you’ve agreed to all the most basic legal terms) without having worked out enough details in the deal to protect you in the event it goes sour.  So where are you then? Stuck (quite possibly).

One way to prevent this is to confirm that whatever the basic business terms you agree to (price, when paid, other contributions), they will “be subject to successful negotiation of a mutually acceptable written agreement.”  Or, to include special instructions in your partnership agreement about the limited ways they can be modified (that is, not by a chaotic flurry of emails).  Yes (sigh), it does mean getting lawyers involved . . . but wouldn’t you rather get/stay hitched to a business partner you’ve chosen carefully than one acquired like a quickie Las Vegas wedding?

Have questions about working with Kaufman Business Law? This is the video to watch.