Moral Turpitude Clauses in Contract Writing

Contracts exist as a means to benefit both parties, while still holding each responsible for an action or agreement for a period of time. While contracts are generally in place to protect the parties involved, if one of the parties acts in an uncharacteristic way of the other, it can negatively affect the image of both parties involved.

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People with contracts often become intertwined with the company or brand they are representing, thus if they receive publicity, so can the brand. Because people can be unpredictable, it can be extremely beneficial to have a moral turpitude clause in the event the person acts in a way to misrepresent the brand and the brand wants the contract terminated to salvage reputation.

Moral turpitude can be defined as any behavior or actions that are contrary to social norms in regards to good morals, honesty and justice. While the actions and behaviors regarded as moral turpitude vary among instutitions, whether it is a church, school or business, the basic idea is behavior or actions that are vile or depraved. It can step beyond a crime, such as additional actions to a crime to make it more malicious, such as assaulting a person in addition to robbing them.

A moral turpitude clause in a contract can allow a party to terminate the contract in the event the other party acts in a way that can negatively impact the image or reputation at stake.

Here are some examples of moral turpitude:

  • Actor Charlie Sheen’s strange interviews, drug use, slandering the TV show he was on, damaging hotel rooms and other antics
  • Golfer Tiger Woods cheating on his wife with multiple women
  • Football player Michael Vick’s involvement with dog fighting circles
  • Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps photo showing him smoking marijuana
  • World-renowned cyclist Lance Armstrong performance enhancement drug use allegations
  • The coaches and staff who turned an alleged blind eye to the sexual assault of children by Jerry Sandusky

The media can use also use moral turpitude cases to enhance their reputation. For example, if a celebrity is dropped from a brand campaign for drug use, a doctor with a reality show can offer that celebrity rehab on his or her reality show to gain notoriety of their recent negative attention. News stations can increase viewership by getting in-depth interviews with those involved in the case or by offering additional coverage.

So when writing a contract, consider the benefits to your brand in the event the other party behaves in a way that can negatively affect your brand image. A moral turpitude clause can sever the ties that would otherwise strangle your brand’s positive reputation.

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4 comments

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