A legend from the world of Rock’n’Roll that has an important lesson for modern contracts.
David Lee Roth of Van Halen fame, did indeed include a clause in their contracts rider demanding that brown M&M’s were to be removed from the backstage area.
But while this appears a frivolous and petulant demand buried deep in the contract, the inclusion of clause 126 (The Brown M&M clause) was purposeful. It wasn’t simply a way to wriggle out of playing and get paid although it could have been used in that way. The purpose was deliberate, calculated and brilliant, but above all, simple.
A contract is a tricky thing at the best of times. Two (or more) parties attempt to document up precisely their agreement to ensure nothing is missed.
I’ll let David explain the purpose below in his own words. I think you will agree, simply brilliant.
So for those that can’t (or do not feel comfortable following links).
The cliff notes… The seemingly frivolous clause (and the presence of Brown M&M’s) identified if the contract had been read fully and complied with. The rest of the clauses dealt with key safety issues. The lack of Brown M&M’s was evidence that measures had been taken as requested. The presence of Brown M&M’s flagged up that the band needed to do a full line check before beginning to ensure all could go as planned.
So the next time you come across a clause you do not see the point of, switch shoes, and look for the reason it was included. It is my experience that legally contracts only contain elements that serve purposes, understand those purposes and you understand that contract.