Legal opinions – takeaways: 1. Third parties might rely on it sue the lawyer if things go wrong 2. Limitations and disclaimers 3. Opinion committee checks it 4. Partner signs it
Legal opinions – limitations Who is entitled to rely on it What assumptions were made What if any files or docs were reviewed What if any other investigation was made (or “without investigation”) Whose knowledge – the janitor’s?
Legal opinions – things to avoid Try not to opine about things that: … are outside the scope of lawyers’ professional competence … are outside your competence … the client could certify … the other side could readily verify (e.g., contents of docs, SEC filings, etc.)
Legal opinions – negotiating it Read the ABA guidelines at http://goo.gl/tI02Ahttp://goo.gl/tI02A (but don’t take them as gospel) Don’t be afraid to push back Golden Rule – “would you give an opinion like that?” Try to attach the form of opinion as K exhibit
“We always get this opinion from the other side’s lawyers”
Definition: “Indemnify” Reimburse for demonstrated harm suffered Broadly defined – see Common Draft § 101.16 Not the same as “hold harmless” (H/H is essentially an advance release)
Types of indemnity General – any harm suffered Narrower – third-party claims only Monetary awards Defense costs (if indemnitor doesn’t provide a defense)
Defense obligation (CD § 802.2) Spell out separately California law: Implied with indemnity
Defense obligation (CD § 802.2) QUESTION: Which is better for indemnitor: provide a defense (you hire and pay for the defense counsel), or reimburse the other side for its legal fees?
Defense obligation: Ground rules (Common Draft §§ 802.06 et seq.) Timely notification of claim Indemnitor controls the defense No (non-factual) admissions No waiver of defenses Settlement restrictions Protected person pays for own monitoring counsel
Indemnity: Express negligence rule (CD § 802.24) Texas will enforce obligation to indemnify for own negligence BUT, the obligation must be: Expressly stated “Conspicuous” CAUTION: Indemnifying party is now an insurance carrier for the protected party
Indemnity: Limitation of liability (CD § 802.25) Try to negotiate limits Other side will often push back Response: “We’re selling [X], not insurance – we can buy a policy for you and bill you for the cost plus a markup.”
Indemnity: Warning Check with client’s insurance carrier to be sure insurance policy doesn’t exclude contractual indemnities
Insurance – policy limits (Common Draft § 407.03) Combined single occurrence Check w/ business people, insurance agent
Insurance – additional insureds See http://goo.gl/OykOs for more detailshttp://goo.gl/OykOs Whose insurance is “primary”? Subrogation waiver
Insurance – subrogation waiver "A waiver of subrogation clause is placed in the … contract to minimize lawsuits and claims among the parties. The result is that the risk of loss is agreed among the parties to lie with the insurers, and the cost of the insurance coverage is contractually allocated among the parties as they may agree. The risk, once assigned to the insurers by the parties, is determined to stop there, without allowing the insurer to seek redress from the party ‘at fault.’" Kenneth A. Slavens, What is Subrogation... and Why Is My Contract Waiving It? (2000; accessed Aug. 22, 2007) (emphasis added); see also the Wikipedia article on Subrogation.What is Subrogation... and Why Is My Contract Waiving It?Subrogation
Insurance – certificates See http://goo.gl/ZnofQ for more detailshttp://goo.gl/ZnofQ Copy of vendor’s own certificate Customer’s certificate direct from carrier Endorsement – notice of changes Hang on to those certificates!
Bulletproof a limitation of liability Abacus Fed. Svgs. Bk. v. ADT Security Serv., Inc., summarized in this blog posting Abacus Fed. Svgs. Bk. v. ADT Security Serv., Inc.this blog posting Diebold’s magic formula: Limitation of liability Customer must buy insurance Customer waives subrogation
Subrogation Party A must buy insurance Party B is an “additional named insured” Party A waives subrogation Waiver is binding on insurance carrier So even if Party B is at fault, insurance carrier can’t sue Party B to recoup payout (See this blog posting for cites)this blog posting
Himalaya clause (CD § 801) Other side agrees not to sue your client’s employees, etc. Handy for multi- jurisdictional matters