Rallies and caravans are activities of some complexity between various parties. Careful coordination and communications will be needed whenever your group depends upon some vendor or facility. Explicit and detailed contracts and agreements need to be drafted so that all parties know what is expected of them, what will happen if they do not do what they promise, and what they will get if the perform what the agree to do. Anyone leading or managing a caravan or rally needs to understand the basic ideas and concepts behind contract law because the process of working with others will involve contracts whether formal or informal, whether written or oral, and the consequences and potential implications of these arrangements must be understood.
Note: The advice and information presented here is intended to encourage you to obtain and use appropriate and qualified legal assistance in these matters. It is not intended in any way to serve as a replacement or substitute for proper legal guidance. There are no warranties and no assumption of liability. Use what is presented here at your own risk!
A contract is an agreement between legally identified entities who can be held responsible for meeting the agreed upon conditions. This is why it important for your unit or chapter to properly approve the caravan as an activity it sponsors. When the unit claims the activity, they become one of the contracting parties and not the activity leader or sponsor. The unit and its parents are often in a better position to accept overall caravan responsibility and provide necessary insurance for the activity.
A contract is a two way street. There is always a consideration given for a consideration received. There will be agreement about what will happen if someone does not provide their consideration and other matters. All of these need to be clearly defined and described to help avoid conflict and argument in case things go awry.
The contract should be considered a subset of state law. Whatever the contract does not spell out, the state law probably does. There are also certain things specified in law that the contract cannot over-ride as well.
Sloppiness and informality should not be confused. There is never any place for sloppiness in making agreements. There can be informality but only when the stakes are no more than what any party to the agreement is willing to take upon himself.
The application to join your activity is an exchange of money and a promise to abide by the activity rules regulations and other requirements in return for the planning, coordination, and other services to be provided during the caravan.
A second type of participant agreement is the volunteer agreement for some staffing need of the activity. This should be considered an employment contract by both parties.
Facilities that provide meeting, banquet, or other services will usually have on-hand contracts that have been carefully crafted and reviewed by skilled legal professionals to assure that the risks to the facility are minimized. This means that there may be provisions that put the activity sponsor at significant risk in the case of a problem. For this reason, you should carefully read all of the fine print in the suggested contract to determine how you might be obligated in various situations and what remedies are available to you if the facility is not able to provide what you are seeking. There are common clauses for what might happen due to fire or natural disaster, cancellation, theft, and all sorts of other things.
Meeting planners will often have their own facilities contracts that favor their clients. You should keep in mind that any contract is negotiable. If a contract offered you by a facility contains clauses that will be difficult for your organization, by all means suggest an alternative. You can and should negotiate for the benefit of your organization!
Special services contracts are agreements for things like catering services, equipment rental, entertainers, and skilled labor needed for a particular activity or event. When you seek out these service providers, ask to see their standard service contract. You should only do business with those who have thorough, complete, and professionally prepared service contracts if at all possible. Your potential service provider having a professional contract is telling you that that service provider takes his or her business seriously, which is a good value for those you will depend upon.
Again, read these contracts carefully and be prepared to negotiate items that may cause your organization problems.
Your organization also has agreements and contracts that need to be considered in your planning. First is the articles of incorporation which is an agreement between your organization and the state in which it resides. Second is the bylaws of the organization which is a contract between the organization and its members. Then there are such things as insurance policies or other agreements that may be pertinent to your activity.
Ohio State Planning Guide listing facility considerations - http://www.acs.ohio-state.edu/guidelines/event.planning/STindex.html
Meetings Net Law and Contracts page - http://meetingsnet.com/law_contracts/
Description of The Special Events Advisor : A Business and Legal Guide for Event Professionals ($60, Wiley)- http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471450103.html
Guidelines from the Mayor's Office of Aurora, Illinois - http://www.ci.aurora.il.us/SpecialEvents/permit.html -
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