En 中文

Articles

Always ask about authority

Always ask about authority

Always ask about authority 决定权的所在

Some time ago, I made the fundamental mistake of trying to negotiate with someone who actually had no authority to do so.

But first, some context:
  1. My client, a sub-tenant, asked me to call a representative of a landlord regarding some deposits held by the latter.
  2. Apparently, the deposits held by the landlord could be traced to my client, since the tenant had simply passed on the sub-tenancy deposit to the landlord as the deposit for the main tenancy.
  3. However, both parties had recently only discovered that the tenant had been struck off the company register. This caused a bit of trouble for the landlord's accountants as they suddenly had no entity to return the deposit to when the tenancy ended.

So with the instructions that the landlord did want to return the deposit (my guess was that it represented a liability on their balance sheet), I called a person with the title of Vice President. Sounds fairly senior enough, I thought. Should be someone who can call the shots and work together to find a solution, I thought. Should be able to resolve this issue without having to escalate it and risk souring the relationship, I thought.

I thought wrong.

I started the call (after all the necessary niceties) asking about why the landlord insisted on returning the deposit only to the tenant, despite having acknowledged that my client was the source of the money. Perhaps there was another way to resolve the matter which could protect their interests?

To my surprise, the Vice President insisted that
  1. She had been instructed by her "leader" that there was no other way (and refusing to tell me who this "leader" was),
  2. That she would not tell me who had the authority to decide otherwise, and
  3. That I would have to send a letter of demand on my client's behalf, because the landlord was "not an SME" and they had "SOPs to follow". (What a loaded statement!)

And there was no budging her from this position. So I had to hang up and inform my client that this matter needed an alternative approach.

Although the call only lasted twenty minutes or so, I could have avoided all that frustration by asking what her job as the Vice President entailed, and whether she had the authority to negotiate. Job titles are not conclusive, even in large corporations with some semblance of hierarchy. Always make sure that the other side does indeed have the authority you're looking for.

Need help establishing the other side's willingness to negotiate or mediate? Email me at boongan@lawfirm.com.sg, or chat with me on LinkedIn (Boon Gan Ng).

要与对方谈判,必先确定面前的人的确有代表对方的权力。最近一位当事人发现他不是主要租户,但压低金已经转到了房东的手里。实际上,当事人有保留压低金转款的证据,能证明主要租户直接把压低金转款给房东。出乎预料的是,主要租户的公司注册竟然被取消,公司实际上已不存在,房东的会计部门不知要把压低金退还给谁。

当事人指示,房东有意把压低金退还给他,需要和房东的一位副主席联络。一听到对方是职位相当高的副主席,我就直接与她通电话,希望能与她顺利、迅速地谈妥解决方案。

想不到,我竟然碰了好大的一个钉子。

当我向副总理询问,房东既然已经认同当事人的确是付压低金的一方,为何坚持只要把压低金退还给一个已不存在的公司?双方是否能通过另外一个方式解决房东的困扰?

不料,副总理的回复毫无合作的精神。
  1. 根据副总理,她的“首领”已指定以上的解决方案。当我尝试询问“首领”的身份,她坚决不透露。
  2. 追问有哪位是有决定权的代表,她也是坚决不透露。
  3. 她甚至说房东公司“不是任何小企业,有必遵守的程序”,还邀请我发出要求信。(这段话真的让我火大!)

周旋了一阵子,发现这位副总理如搬不动的大石头,只好挂了电话,通知当事人必须找另外一位可以配合的代表。

过后我反省是,觉得第一步该是确定这位副总理是否有谈判或达成协议的决定权,避免这让人怒发冲冠的对话。职位虽然代表权力,但并不一定表示谈判、达成协议的决定权力。商谈之前,应当肯定双方是否有适当的决定权。

想要确定对方是否愿意谈判或和解?不妨以电邮 (boongan@lawfirm.com.sg) 或LinkedIn (Boon Gan Ng)与我联系。

Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?

If you have any questions relating to business dispute prevention or how to settle a business dispute in Singapore, feel free to email or drop me a LinkedIn message. I will do my best to respond within 24 hours.

Or leave a message here (your personal particulars will not be shared with third parties without your permission).

若有关于商业纠纷防范、和解方案的疑问,可通过电邮或LinkedIn联系。我会尽量在24小时之内回复。

您也可以通过以下表格留言。我们不会在得到您的许可之前把个人资料传达给第三方。

Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?