• Are payments linked or unlinked? Unfair linkages include "pay when paid" clauses that can penalize your company for upstream problems that are not its fault. Also, retainage provisions of contracts should be "unlinked" to the activities of other players — with significant reduction or elimination of retainage before completion.
  • Is the middleman solvent? If your company is contracting through a general contractor or other middleman, do you have any sense for that company's solvency? If there is any question, either a direct contractual relationship with the end user and/or some other third-party payment guarantees (e.g. a payment bond) should be explored.
  • Is liability restricted? The upside of a smaller project is, by definition, smaller. Make sure that the downside is equally small. Limiting liability to the contract price is fair. Excluding consequential damages should be a dealbreaker if not permitted.
  • Is the project a mine field? Although it's tough to turn away business in tough economic times, some automation projects are clearly "mine fields" and you are betting on walking a perfect path to make it through unscathed. Trust your inner lawyer!