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Cancellation. Attrition. Alcohol liability.

These may seemlike old or even played-out subjects to a seasoned meeting pro- fessional, but theyremainamong themost important legal issues facing the indus- try today, according to attorneys who participated in a recent Convene roundtable discussion. And our ever-increasing dependence on technology has created a whole newset of concerns as well, particularlywhen it comes to the potential for defamation and intellectual-propertyinfringement lurking behind email, websites, and social media associated with meetings, travel, and hospitality.

Roundtable Participants Stephen Barth, J.D., founder, Hospitality- Lawyer.com; professor of law and leadership, Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston John Foster, J.D., partner, Foster, Jensen &Gulley, Atlanta Audra Heagney, J.D., associate, Venable,Washington, D.C. Tyra Hilliard, Ph.D., J.D., CMP, associate professor of restaurant, hotel, and meetings management, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala. Jonathan Howe, J.D., founding partner and president, Howe&Hutton, Chicago

from alcohol consumption (or overconsump- tion) to injuries sustained in a meeting facility or with a meeting vendor (e.g., someone falling from a bus).

CERTIFICATION MADE POSSIBLE

Heagney:Meeting planners should ensure that any contract they enter into on behalf of their

organization for an event very clearly states the circumstances under which a contract may be canceled, any penalties that may result from cancellation, and the manner in which such penal- ties may be reduced or alleviated. There should be provisions that permit cancellation without

What are the most pressing legal issues facing meeting and hospitality professionals? Hilliard: Contracts will always be one of the biggest legal issues meeting and hospitality professionals face, because each meeting involves one, or usually more, contracts. Performance terms and the allocation of liability riskare always a concern. Additionally, there are huge issues around liability that arise from everything

66 pcma convene March 2012

liability in certain instances. For example, the organization should be allowed to cancel a contract without liability or penalty in the event that the hotel or convention center is undergoing con- struction or remodeling that will materially impact the event. Similarly, if a hotel has a change in management or ownership that the organization reasonably believes will materially impact their event, the organization should have the ability to cancel without liability or penalty. In the event the organization cancels for any reason not excused by the terms of the contract, there should be a sliding

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