As the events season begins in the Middle East, professionals from various parts of the industry are doing their best to collaborate efficiently and ensure that the months ahead are a success.
However, with all the buzz and excitement comes a lot of chaos as well, especially when it comes to the payment of services provided. One way of avoiding the confusion and negating any potentially bad situation is by ensuring that the right contractual terms and conditions are in place.
According to Mark Hill, managing partner at therightslawyers, disputes arise quite often and in many different contexts in the events industry. The first is in the context of client and supplier, while the other key area is where services are being provided through sub-contractors, either through freelance or otherwise.
“If you go back 10 years or so, there was a tendency to seek to avoid disputes in the industry. However, that has changed a little bit these days, primarily because the market is tighter, both in terms of what the economy is like and what the competition in the market is like. I also think because of these two reasons, the region is more ready to resolve issues through dispute than before,” says Hill.
Providing an on-ground perspective, Lee Charteris, president of the ILEA’s Middle East chapter agrees that things have changed over the years. Having been in the UAE since 2007, he says that while people did debate over preferential payment terms, companies were sensitive towards timely payments. However, the situation is relatively different at the moment.
“Ultimately, it all came down to a 50% deposit on the confirmation of a job and the remaining 50% on the conclusion of it. Over the course of the years, we really prided ourselves on being prompt payers and worked with suppliers to develop payment terms that worked not only for the payee but also the supplier. In fact, the norm in the last few years has been 30 days.
“Sadly, as the president of the ILEA, I've recently encountered and had lots of conversations with suppliers who have seen a slip back into the deposit process whereby they need to get paid.”
Rob Kinder, an associate at Bird & Bird, however, says that in his experience, disputes in the events industry are relatively rare. In fact, because court litigation is extremely expensive and unpredictable in this region, as a general rule, disputes rarely reach the courts.