You’d have thought that the opposite would be true. It’s reasonable to assume that safety equipment is there to, well, keep you safe. Having been involved in construction law for many years, there have been times in my professional career where I’ve spent more time on building sites than in board rooms or court rooms, where hard hats and wellies were more common than law books and legal arguments, and I was always pleased I was well equipped for climbing ladders and inspecting boundaries. But there is a time and a place for everything. Standing on a packed train last week, I nearly lost consciousness due to a rather inconsiderate fellow commuter who thought it was a good idea to attach his hard hat to his backpack. Not only did this mean that he was taking up much more space than everyone else, but he decided to turn round rather fast and I got a face full of hard hat!

On the other hand, stilettos can be beautiful and deadly, especially when used to dig into the foot of the said inconsiderate fellow commuter, who hadn’t taken the precaution of having work boots on.

Which goes to show that things that are there to protect you can be dangerous, and things that look innocent can also be used as deadly weapons. Or, put another way, never take anything at face value.

Which can be applied to many aspects of life, love and law.

Take, for example, a termination clause in an agreement. Simply because the agreement says that if you terminate early you have to pay a fee, doesn’t automatically mean that you do, or that the amount that the agreement refers to is enforceable, even if you signed the contract. If the amount that is being claimed is considerably in excess of the loss that the other side will suffer due to your early termination, it is likely to be a penalty clause, which is unenforceable. In addition, if the reason you are giving notice is due to some act or omission of the other side, it could be that actually they are the ones that are in breach of the agreement, and that by terminating early, all you are doing is accepting their breach. Or you may have a counterclaim for damages which might extinguish their claim or even exceed it.

You might think it is unlikely that you can avoid the terms of a contract that you have signed, but stranger things have happened. Somewhere in the country there is a fit healthy young man who never thought he would be reduced to tears by a woman half his size and twice his age, armed with nothing more than a pair of shoes, yet here we are!

Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Keeping our heads, heels and standards high!