And you thought a short contract was best

Do you remember the Hobbit?  The contract Bilbo made with the dwarves seemed quite short didn’t it?  In case you forgot, this is what it said:  “For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any); all travelling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise arranged for.”

Cover of "The Hobbit"

Cover of The Hobbit

But words alone are not always enough to understand exactly what the contract says.  To understand Bilbo’s contract with the dwarves, I recommend you read the analysis at

Bottom line:  this author shows that the contract has at least 40 major sections and a number of footnotes, codicils and digressions.  It’s worth reading to understand why lawyers are so specific about words and how things can get out of hand quickly.




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