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Have contract negotiations changed for alarm companies
September 4, 2019
Have contract negotiations changed for alarm companies
            I have been in the security industry over 30 years and have read your articles and industry legal news for much of that time.  Recently, I have had significant push back and requests for deletion of Indemnification and Limit of Liability clauses from county agencies in the state of GA and SC.  
            In 30 years, I never lost a deal because we could not negotiate mutually acceptable terms and conditions, but I currently have three deals in jeopardy.  Has something changed in the commercial construction and contracting world that is influencing the way our industry’s standard agreements are interpreted? 
  Thank you for your time,
 Craig Cook
            Thank you for this thought provoking and timely question.  I wish I had a more definitive, authoritative,  legal response.  I suspect that things have indeed changed so that alarm contracts, and contracts in general, receive more scrutiny and push back than years ago.  But this may just be because communication has become so much easier and faster.  It’s much easier to get a copy of the alarm contract over to the subscriber’s lawyer for review.  Of course the alarm contract has also become far more complex, just like the equipment and services.
            You are in the alarm industry 30 years, which brings you back to 1989.  Equipment and services were sure different then.  Go back to 1975, when I represented my first alarm company doing collection and defense work depending on a contract with maybe 10 paragraph – though to the credit of the lawyers who preceded me, the contract had an acceleration clause and a limitation of liability clause.  I’m not sure either as written would hold up today, but back then the contract did just fine.
            Everybody and everything is more sophisticated, and perhaps careful, today.  Certain industries and alarm customers are feeling their oats and think they are in the driver’s seat able to dictate terms to whoever wants to do business with them.  We see this with large developers, large property owners, major contractors, hospitals and municipalities.  Also, the alarm industry isn’t an insignificant player anymore.  Alarms systems and services are necessities, some required by law, such as fire alarms and environmental alarms, and others deemed necessary just because of the uncertainty of our times.  Old days no one gave much thought to the alarm contract.  Now it seems everyone is on the alert when it comes to alarm contracts and feels the need to scrutinize the contract line by line.
            The view from the alarm owner’s side has also changed a bit.  While lawsuits were brought against alarm companies almost from the moment they began offering their electronic services [I don’t think anyone sued the guys who left a card in the door to show they stopped by – most customers probably hoped those guys would just go away], lawsuits against alarm companies are ubiquitous now.  You’re almost not even a player if you haven’t been sued at least once.  
            I wish I had a better answer, and if anyone wants to take a stab at it, let’s hear from you.
            I am called upon to negotiate with subscribers and their lawyers several times a week.  If you use the Standard Form Agreements do not hesitate to contact me for negotiation assistance.  The cost of getting me involved runs for free to a thousand or more, and to paraphrase the L’Oréal commercial, I’m worth it.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301