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Borat Wins! High Five!!

January 15th, 2007 by Andrew Cochrane
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This is a little old by now, but what can I say, things have been busy lately. I was quietly and nervously watching for the results of the court case of Stupid Racist Drunk Frat Boys vs Borat, and now that they are in, I am greatly relieved. In case you are not aware of the complaint, here is the release form they signed, and here are the details of their complaint. The basic gist is that they were bought booze by the producers, lied to about what the movie was called and was about, and misled as to the nature of what the filming release said. I was nervous about this one because the outcome could have set some very dangerous precedents.

First and most serious, if you are drunk, can you enter into a legally binding contract? At first you’d think that the answer should be “no”, but think about it. What if a multi-billion dollar acquisition was nullified because one of the parties was doing a little pre-celebration of the deal with some champagne but later got cold feet and needed a way out? If a contract can be undone after the fact due to the claimed incapacitation of one of the parties (there is no objective evidence in the Borat case- no breathalyser readout etc), then a huge dangerous loophole would be opened in the law.

The second problem that I was interested to see them deal with is the issue of responsibility in signing a contact- i.e. is a contract valid if the person signing was misled as to what it says? If I give you a filming release to sign but tell you that it is an insurance form for filming in a moving vehicle, and you neglect to read it, is it binding? I was nervous about this as well, because it too could set a dangerous precedent, wherein anyone could nullify a contract by claiming that they were misled as to its contents. Thankfully the judge agreed that the responsibility to read things before you sign lies on the signee, and dismissed the case.

Thank God. Sometimes I worry that in our “post 9/11″ world, law was slowly going out the window.


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