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Contracts: In a written agreement, is it prudent--or overkill--to have a party initial every section or page of the agreement?

Los Angeles, CA |

I graduated from law school but am not an attorney. I run an adult website & draft written agreements for actors.

My written agreements are well organized. Each section heading is in BOLD CAPS & plain English in addition to "legalese," so that an ordinary person can understand it--e.g., CONSIDERATION (ACTOR'S COMPENSATION OR PAY).

Such drafting prevents the actor from voiding the contract by claiming the terms were intentionally confusing--which happens often when an actor changes careers. I also videotape the actor's reading & signing the agreement to prove the actor was sober & read the terms.

Many adult agreements require actors to initial the bottom of every page--or even every section!--but that tends to annoy the actor. So how safe is only a signature at the end of the agreement?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    Initialling at bottom of every page helps to assure that a new page wasnt substituted in place of another. Initialing each para seems like overkill, and sort of defeats the purpose of highlighting the importance of any specific ones, like binding arb/waiver of right to trial for example. If the contract is short, Id only have inialling on the most important clauses, such as waivers or limitations. If the contract is long, then the act of inialling each para sort of becomes rote.
    Is there anything about them having had full opportunity to consult with independent counsel before signing?


  2. If initials are required for each paragraph, attention is consciously directed to the content of that paragraph, encouraging clarity and obviating a claim of confusion. Since by your description that issue or defense to enforcement is a known risk, the answer would seem obvious. Who cares if the actor is annoyed? Does s/he want the deal or not? I value clarity, so my vote is for "prudent."

    Best wishes for an outcome you can accept, and please remember to designate a best answer.

    This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.


  3. As Ms. Sinclair indicates, requiring initials at the bottom of every page (or even section) may add another layer of protection against claims that a party was taken unawares by a certain contract provision. Such initials, however, are not required to make a contract enforceable.

    As you no doubt learned in law school, a contract requires mutual assent. The actor's signature on the written contract is sufficient evidence of his/her assent to its terms, and in CA, a party is generally bound to the terms of a contract they agree to (even if they didn't read or understand its terms). Requiring initials isn't required and may be "overkill", but if it gives you piece of mind, there's no harm in it.

    Hope this helps, and good luck.

    The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author, and Pham Law Group does not represent you as your attorneys until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both parties.


  4. I agree with my colleagues that it is certainly prudent (but not legally required) to have initials at the bottom of every page. The only time you really need initials is when there is a waiver section or an arbitration provision which you want to prove that the signer had the opportunity to review and pay special attention to.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


  5. I'm going to disagree with my colleagues - not because I think they are wrong, but because I see things differently.

    I blogged about this topic more than two years ago (please see the post at the link below). Quoting from a portion of that post:

    >>>>

    This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


  6. You want to establish that nothing has been changed about the agreement. Initials are one way of authentication. I am comfortable with paginated agreements with a footer on each page identifying the agreement and using a PDF for the final that is signed at the end. Unless there is a special law requiring initials at a paragraph (like sometimes with binding arbitration) I don't see the need for them on a lengthy document.

    The advice provided is in good faith but not a guaranty of accuracy under all circumstances.

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