LADIES & GENTLEMEN I GIVE YOU A CONTRACT
His name is Valid
Recently the Sharks signed up Lionel Mapoe and, if some media reports are to be believed, look set for yet another court battle, this time with the mighty Free State Union. This prompted some to suggest that Sharks are unethical player poachers and the worst of all acting against “Valid”. I am somewhat surprised why legal disputes around players contracts are so frowned upon and why “Valid” is believed to be right. Let me explain…
Contracts are omnipresent in our lives. We contract all the time, buying bread and milk from a local supermarket, posting a comment at Sharksworld we contractually agree to comply with its rules and regulations. The fact that most of us go to work is due to our employment contract.
Generally, contracts do not have to be in writing to be valid (with some specific exceptions for example the agreement to sell an immovable property have to be in writing). Some contracts are concluded orally, some by mouse clicking and some through access. Yes, by hopping on a bus you actually contract with the owner of a bus.
My point is … considering the amount of contracts being concluded no wonder that there is litigation concerning them.
Let’s talk about employment contracts for a minute. Ordinarily one spends 8 hours a day at work, this is one third of our day (I know some poor sods are less lucky and this time gets stretched somewhat). Factoring in sleeping time one is justified in concluding that we spend a hell of a lot of our time working.
My point is … considering the amount of time that one spends working no wonder that there is litigation concerning it.
In fact there is plenty of it. The CCMA, a forum established to deal with employment matters is close to being bankrupt as they fail to handle ever increasing volume of cases. And this institution exists in addition to a number of bargaining councils for specific industries and labour courts.
This is the context in which one must view court cases pertaining to contracts of professional players. I am using the word “professional” here to denote a person who is being paid for services he renders. The sport of rugby entered the era of professionalism and although we still expect players to love their job and perform it with passion and commitment we also expect them to perform up to a certain level because this is what they are being paid for.
My point is … considering that professional rugby players conclude contracts for rendering their services, which in many respects are similar to the employment relation no wonder that there is litigation concerning them.
Let’s now tackle my problematic Mr Valid. One of the reasons why he caught my attention was because I do not think that many rugby journalists or administrators have much of a legal knowledge to speak of. It’s fine if they don’t because it’s not really expected of them but perhaps before sending some statements into the air it may be good to check a few things.
Mr Valid is a member of a contract family. A contract is an agreement to create obligations between contracting parties. In order for a contract to become Mr Valid there need to be an agreement between persons who have capacity to act, performance of the obligation must be possible and legal. This is it, the sum total of requirements that make Mr Valid special. Let’s note that there is no need to use of any standard templates.
Most of us remember Jacque Fourie saga. Jacque apparently did not have a valid contract with the Lions as some sort of a technical advisor. Perhaps this particular contract was invalid because it was not possible for Jacque to render such services. The fact is though that for many years he played for the Lions and received salary for it and if you ask me there was a contract, but perhaps not a written one.
My point is … existence of a valid contract does not prejudge the matter yet.
This is just the beginning, as now Mr Valid enters the real world. In this world perhaps the union X didn’t pay the player Y as much as he was promised in his Valid contract or perhaps he did not get time off for Easter. Perhaps union X is upset that the player did not score those 4 tries that he was contractually obliged to. Perhaps, perhaps…one of the hundred and one situations occurred and the party did not act in accordance with their agreement.
Perhaps the details of these situations were not revealed to the press but will be disclosed in the court proceedings should the union or the player decide to go this route. The rules of disclosure and the offence of contempt of court or perjury are there to safeguard the due process.
My point is…we do not really know so perhaps we should wait to hear what the court has to say.
So far the Sharks have not lost the case over Mapoe. They were not even taken to the court on this one.
My point is … perhaps one should cut them some slack.