As a teenager one of my favourite responses, when faced with someone stating the obvious was “….and you are telling me this because…..?” Said with a large dollop of sarcasm it could stop even the most confident of adults in their tracks.
There are still times today when I’m tempted to use it. Usually when the children say something like “the cat has been sick again!” or “I’m hungry”.
What can be more irritating than stating the obvious can be stating the irrelevant. Like when you are crawling along the M25 at 5 miles an hour and the sign above you is frantically flashing a 50mph restriction. Chance would be a fine thing. Or the sign on a packet of peanuts that says “may contain nuts”. I would comment on the fact that take away hot drinks containers now have to have a sign on them about how the contents may be hot, but that’s probably down to legal advice so I’ll keep quiet!
Some obvious statements can actually be misleading. A guy that took me out for dinner once, told me that he’d rather be rich and happy than poor than happy. I suspect what he meant was he’d rather be rich and unhappy than poor and happy. Either way he wasn’t someone I was going to have dinner with again!
I read recently that Abraham Lincoln said that a good settlement is better than a good lawsuit. To which the answer is “well Dah!” But actually it’s probably not as obvious as it might sound. I think what he actually meant was that if you get a reasonable offer to settle, it may well be worth accepting, even if you’ve got a good claim and think you’ll get more in court. A good claim doesn’t guarantee a success (a bird in the hand and all that) and you need to factor in the additional costs not to mention the stress. So Honest Abe was talking sense, he just wasn’t explaining himself very well.
If you’re involved in a dispute then moving towards mediation at the earliest opportunity might sound like obvious advice, but possibly you might be surprised if that’s what your solicitor saying, and it might make you think we were telling you that your case was no good. In reality, I’d rather have 10 good cases which settle on terms that the clients can live with, than one good case that goes to court and wins. I might have to put in more hours to make the same amount of money, but I’m more likely to have 10 contented clients.
Of course what might be even more obvious is that when you’re drafting your contracts (I’m sure you all draft contracts!) you should consider having a mediation clause written in – this restricts someones ability to go to court without first having tried mediation.
If you need help stating the obvious to the other side (like how expensive litigation could be and how much easier it could be if we all sat round the table for a chat) then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can save you a few bucks.
Kleyman and Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Obviously.