Well, at least you ASKED before standing in the nitwit corner

Hi Miss Snark,

An agent who has represented mutiple best-sellers wants to represent my modest book. Unfortunately, the author-agency contract she asked me to sign specified that disputes will be settled by binding arbitration in the city where the agent is located. That's a problem because she's in Washington, DC and I'm in New York City. I therefore asked her to change the contract to indicate that arbitration will be held in the city of the respondent. She refused. Would I be a nitwit if I dumped this super-successful agent?

Particularly about something like this.
It's $40 to take the bus to DC. If you end up in binding arbitration with this agent, email me, and I'll give you two nice crisp twenty dollar bills.

Don't be penny-wise and pound foolish.
I don't change the major terms of my contract for representation either.


Anonymous said...

As a lawyer, I can tell you that this is pretty standard format for any contract these days. If you ever were in some kind of action with them, you'd have hired a lawyer anyway who would be there for you and $40 would be the least of your problems.

Seriously, this is really standard stuff. Your gym contract probably says the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I just signed a contract with a similar clause-- but under what circumstances would a client and agent end up in binding arbitration? Does this happen often?

Miss Snark said...

only when big fat wads of greasy grimy greenbacks are at stake. Not often. I don't know anyone in fact who's been to arbitration. I know of more than a few people who sued their agents for being idiots, but genuine disagreements about money, not often.

Simon Haynes said...

I live in sunny Western Australia, thousands of miles and thousands of dollars away from NY. I'd still sign a contract with an agent where arbitration took place in NY.
The trick is to work around any issues so there's no need for arbitration.

CEP said...

As an aside, the arbitration clause is a lot less important than the choice-of-law clause--that one that says "this contract will be intepreted under the law of the State of Confusion." There are several states whose laws would make things even more unpleasant than a $40 bus trip (plus a night in a DC-area hotel, shared with several cockroaches and/or a politician).

The real problem with arbitration is that the filing costs greatly exceed those for small-claims court; but that's a rant for another time and place, not an objection to what appears to be a fairly vanilla provision.

Anonymous said...

D'Oh! Simon, you beat me to it!

I was gonna point out that there are farther places to live from DC than NYC.

Like Western Australia, where, it seems, a goodly number of writers live. Like me.

Anyhoo, many of the writing contracts I've signed have this "stuff that goes to court goes to court here in this state" clause.

Like Miss Snark (all hail!) said, there's more important things to worry about. While there's a chance that something could go wrong and you could end up in court, that chance is rather slim.

Fret not.