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Would you pay for something that never happened? Soccer star's death raises legal quandary

Many people would expect that if they agree to purchase a service but never receive anything, they wouldn't be liable to pay but the recent death of football player Emiliano Sala has created a potentially complicated situation.

On January 19 earlier this year, striker Sala signed a transfer deal to move from French team Nantes to Premier League team Cardiff for a fee of £15 million. On January 21, Sala died in a light plane accident on the way to Cardiff. His body was located 2 weeks later.

Following from this tragedy, Nantes has sought the first installment the transfer fee from Cardiff, totaling £5 million, arguing that they have complied with their side of the transfer contract.

In response, Cardiff has refused to pay the transfer fee, arguing that Nantes not only failed to meet various obligations under the confidential contract, but that the contract signed by Sala was null and void. After Sala's initial signing, an amendment to the contract was made to address issues that were later detected however Sala never had the chance to sign the updated version.

Currently stuck in deadlock, Nantes has complained to football's governing body FIFA. Cardiff has been given until 3 April to reply.

No doubt this deal will continue to cause headaches for both teams for some time to come however there are some contractual lessons to be drawn:

  1. Always know what you are signing;
  2. Always check what you are signing;
  3. Always document everything before signing;  and
  4. Always obtain proper legal advice before signing.

If you require advice in relation to any contract, we have a highly experienced team who can assist you.

This article was written by Associate Michael Mobberley. 

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