De drie fases van het onderhandelingsproces

by Dewi Vanblarcum

Het voorkomen van onaangename verrassingen in het onderhandelingsproces

In het onderhandelingsproces zijn drie fases te onderscheiden.

De eerste fase kenmerkt zich door het voeren van oriënterende gesprekken, het uitbrengen van een offerte en het inschrijven op een project; het afbreken van de onderhandelingen in deze fase heeft geen juridische consequenties.

De tweede fase gaat in op het moment dat één van de onderhandelingspartijen van de weder-partij een prestatie verlangt die uitstijgt boven de gebruikelijke inspanningen die redelijkerwijs van de onderhandelingspartner mochten worden verwacht. De kosten die bij deze extra inspanningen komen kijken, komen voor rekening van de afbrekende partij.

Het derde stadium breekt aan op het moment dat er over en weer gerechtvaardigd vertrouwen bestaat dat de onderhandelingen zullen resulteren in de totstandkoming van enigerlei contract. In de derde fase zijn de onderhandelingen vergevorderd en staan partijen als het ware al met één been in het contract. De partij die in de derde fase de onderhandelingen afbreekt, kan, naast de gemaakte kosten, aansprakelijk zijn voor de door wederpartij gederfde winst.

Bij onderhandelingen over gecompliceerde contracten waar veel tijd mee gemoeid is en veel geld op het spel staat, is het raadzaam om, nadat de eerste fase goed is verlopen, een onder-handelingscontract (ook wel ‘intentieverklaring’ genoemd) op te stellen. Voor beide partijen biedt dit duidelijkheid en men voorkomt onaangename verrassingen. In een dergelijk contract zou dan minimaal de volgende twee onderwerpen opgenomen moeten worden.

Ten eerste zou men een verdeling met betrekking tot kosten, gemaakt in het kader van het on-derhandelingsproces, kunnen opstellen om verrassingen in fase twee uit te sluiten.

Omdat de drie fases vloeiend in elkaar overlopen is het ten tweede raadzaam om contractueel de drie fases te onderscheiden; met name de overgang van fase twee naar fase drie is in de praktijk moeilijk te onderscheiden. We raden aan om voor dit onderscheid een objectief crite-rium te hanteren: de tijd. Men zou bijvoorbeeld kunnen overeenkomen dat het afbreken van de onderhandelingen na een bepaalde datum aansprakelijkheid met zich mee brengt.

Dewi Vanblarcum

Gijs Scholten

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