Sometimes Less is More

After recently settling a matter, I sent our standard Mutual Release to the Defendant’s lawyer to review and approve.  Our Releases are typically two pages long and contains important terms to protect the parties. Well, what I got in return as “revised” was something I have never seen before.

Their “revised” Mutual Release they proposed was 12 pages long!  It included emails and Court forms and probably somebody’s Will, all of which has no place in a Release.

I advised counsel that their proposed Mutual Release was not only overkill (and that was putting it lightly), but it also appeared to include Terms of Settlement, which would be a separate document from the Release.  They claimed that our Mutual Release didn’t protect the parties enough.  Sidenote: it absolutely does.  However, sometimes less is more.

In a standard Release, Terms or Minutes of Settlement are not included.  A Release generally states Party A will pay Party B a sum of money and everyone is released from any and all claims relating to the matter.  There’s more to it, but you get the gist.

Terms or Minutes of Settlement, however, outline how payment(s) are made, when payment(s) are made, etc., and usually a term in the Terms or Minutes of Settlement refers to a Release being exchanged between the parties.

I made some (very) minor additions to our original Mutual Release and advised counsel that our amended Mutual Release was what we were prepared to sign.  Well, it appeared that their 12-page Mutual Release wasn’t necessary, because they then returned the Mutual Release with minor additions.  Sometimes, you just need to pick your battles.

We can also apply “less is more” to the drafting of Pleadings.  Every minute detail of your story does not need to be in the Plaintiff’s Claim or Defence.  Judges don’t have the time to read your novels, especially considering the current backlog.  Also, opposing parties don’t want to read your novel either – we have things to do!  Only the most important details need to plead – save the rest for your testimony at Trial.

Keep it simple, but effective and less is more.

Murray Brown, Licensed Paralegal