A hangover is not a great start to a new year, but I suppose most of us rarely begin the year without one. Mine lasted longer than usual. The dull pounding headache, sore throat, eyes threatening to droop shut, the nauseous dizziness. All symptoms still present.
It was still dark outside when I arrived to work yesterday (and today). My desk was in an absolute mess; notebooks, stacks of papers, the coffee stained mug that I forgot to put in the dishwasher on my way out. What a wonderful welcome back.
I reluctantly started sorting through the stacks of paper when I came across a Client Contract. A wave of panic suddenly hit me when I realised that I should have signed and sent it off before I left. I flicked through the pages making sure that signatures were in the right places before scrounging around for a pen to sign my dotted line.
The pen didn't work. Thank God it didn't work.
I noticed a clause that I didn't recognise. I'm not a lawyer and I find it hard to understand the language of may legal documents. There seem to be too many "hereafters" and "not-withstandings" and "hearontos" for me to make actual sense of them. But even I knew that this clause didn't sound right:
In the event of termination by the Client, as set out in 8 a) and b) above, (our company name) shall reimburse the Client its Fee figured on the proportion of term served to the date of termination.
Reimburse the Client? For what? Surely if the Client wants to terminate the contract the Client must pay the Fee up until that point? I read back on Clause 8 to see if it tied in. I noticed that it had also been changed... ever so slightly...
I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Client had sneakily changed it. But I had to be sure. The contract is a generic one that had been drawn up a few years ago by our lawyers. I just had to check to see if the changes were on the master contract. To my horror they had been made. I don't know when and I don't know how.
There's nothing like blind panic at 7:45am, especially if your head already feels like its been trapped in a vice. I rummaged around like a mad woman rounding up copies of all of the contracts signed in the last year. I spent ours checking each one for flaws. The complicated phrases were making my head hurt even more. The Client shall.... hereonto.... endeavour to maximize... in consideration with 4 c) and 13 a)....
I felt sick. I was sick. Gay Boss is due back on 7th January. I had to stay calm and get a hold of myself. Throwing up in the disabled toilets was not the best way to deal with it. What should I do?
The pin dropped. I actually laughed at myself before bursting into relieved tears. (I must have still been a little drunk.) My boyfriend is a lawyer (Solicitor!). Not just any lawyer, my company is one of his key accounts! All I had to do was call him. Call him and ask him not to charge me £500 an hour to help me. Call him ask him to come to my office and help me. Wait! Redo my make-up have a cup of spearmint tea and then call him.
He pushed back his appointments and came over right away. After leafing through the master generic contract he found more errors and more changes that I didn't see. Solicitor told me that whoever changed the contract did so with the intention of permanently ruining the company. Luckily there don't seem to be any problems with the signed contracts so far. I was incredibly lucky that I didn't send of this latest one.
I have a suspicion that Old Prick may have changed it before leaving. I can't be sure. If it wasn't him then it looks like we have a serious problem on hour hands.
Solicitor had to charge the company for his services yesterday. Three and a half hours is approximately £1750. Lawyers don't work for free apparently. Gay Boss threw a fit the last time I took a client out for coffee and billed the company £147.67 (I got a bit carried away and took her out to lunch too). I hope he understands that this was a real emergency.
So much for me handling everything...