word for 'damaging' contract

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boozer

Senior Member
Bulgarian
Hi friends,

I seem to have lost my word. It is something I used to know, or at least I believe so, but I cannot remember it now that I need to express it with precision.

What do you call a contract that is unfair/unfavourable/detrimental, etc. to one of the parties signing it. In fact, such a contract inflicts damage on one of the parties. I need a word that can be used in the blank below:

He will be sued for signing _______ contracts.

The presumption is that if you sign a contract that is detrimental/damaging to your employer, you must have taken a bribe from the party that benefits from the contract, hence the possibility to face charges of... what? Not embezzlement, surely... perhaps corruption... :confused:

Any help is appreciated.
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Thanks, TT. I have to admit I have never heard of a prejudicial contract, but I have blind faith in you. :) Would 'harmful' work too?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    A prejudicial contract would be a contract which prejudices (harms the interest of) one of the parties. That party would often be specified. I've actually never heard the phrase used of contracts, but expressions like 'a judgement which was prejudicial to my interests', or 'a view which was prejudicial to the argument I was making' are common enough. Here are two examples from the BNC (BE corpus):

    Mr Mann accused Mr Sugar of behaving in a ‘reprehensible’ manner, which was unfair and prejudicial to Mr Venables and his company.
    But this system is inevitably prejudicial against minority sections of the community.


    As you can imagine, prejudicial is often a close synonym of harmful, so I don't see why one couldn't have a 'harmful contract).

    The point about prejudicial is that it seems to imply harm only to an individual or to a particular interest, whereas a 'harmful' contract could harm society as a whole.
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    The point about prejudicial is that it seems to imply harm only to an individual or to a particular interest, whereas a 'harmful' contract could harm society as a whole.
    Yes, I agree wholeheartedly.

    As regards prejudicial, what concerns me a bit about it is that I tend to perceive the harm in 'prejudicial' as mostly abstract and intangible, whereas a contract, if prejudicial, will have its concrete material implications. But I would like to stress that those concerns of mine are likely imaginary* and I really do trust your judgement better than mine in this...

    * Unfounded is probably a more suitable word. :)
     
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    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "Prejudice" has narrow meaning in U.S. law, Boozer. I've been looking in online law dictionaries for "prejudicial", but I haven't found any definitions for that word.

    Over here, a lawsuit can be "dismissed with/without prejudice". If the lawsuit is dismissed "with prejudice", the plaintiff cannot sue again for the same claim. If the suit is dismissed "without prejudice", the plaintiff has the right to sue again.

    I'm a little unclear about the type of damage you're referring to. Why is this guy liable for signing the contract?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I've also come across a judgement in a US court which contains these two sentences: The wisdom or foolishness of such a contract is wholly a question of internal management, to be corrected within the corporation. But this bill charges that this oppressive and prejudicial contract has resulted from the non-exercise of honest judgement by those entrusted with corporate management, and that it has been brought about through the improper and illegal influence of the lessor as dominating stockholder. (Source)

    Here the suggestion is, I think, that the contract between two parties (company B controlled by company A) will act against the interests of shareholders in company B, and in favour of the interests of company A which forces the contract upon its affiliated company. This is a prejudicial contract, a contract which acts against the interests of one of the parties agreeing to it.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Thanks, TT.

    But this bill charges that this op- pressive and prejudicial contract has resulted from the nonexercise of honest judgement by those entrusted with corporate management, and that it has been brought about through the improper and illegal influence of the lessor as dominating stockholder.
    This is great evidence that "prejudicial" has an accepted meaning beyond the narrow definitions for "prejudice" that I found in the dictionaries.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Over here, a lawsuit can be "dismissed with/without prejudice". If the lawsuit is dismissed "with prejudice", the plaintiff cannot sue again for the same claim. If the suit is dismissed "without prejudice", the plaintiff has the right to sue again.
    That is surely in line with my experience with 'prejudicial' so far, Mr. Owl. I have a big stamp that says 'cancelled without prejudice'. When I put it on a visa, I cancel the visa with the clear knowledge that the visa holder is not in violation and he/she may apply for a new one. :)

    As regards your second question... Imagine a government official signing a contract for the purchase of 3 tons of cheese for the local kindergartens. The market price of white brine cheese here is in the region of $5 per kilo. However, he is buying the cheese at the rate of $15 per kilo, thereby squandering tax-payers' money and inflicting severe damage on the government, while at the same time supposedly receiving $10,000 under the counter. He has signed a _______ contract on behalf of the government.

    It is interesting that instead of enjoying the sunrise (or retiring to your chamber for the day, as the case may be) you are digging into boring legal matters, Mr. Owl, but I thank you for this nonetheless. :)
     
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    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'd use 'fraudulent contract' in that sentence. If he willingly signed an unreasonable contract for a bribe, that contract is 'fraudulent.' He and the beneficiaries of the contract are defrauding the government.

    It is interesting that instead of enjoying the sunrise (or retiring to your chamber for the day, as the case may be) you are digging into boring legal matters, Mr. Owl, but I thank you for this nonetheless.
    It's always a pleasure to cross paths with you in here, Mr. B. :)
     
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