Legal Issues & Insurance
Every event at Northeastern that involves external venues or vendors requires two things: a written contract and a certificate of insurance. Since legal concerns are some of the most sensitive aspects of event planning, the Office of University Events maintains a strong relationship with the Office of the University Counsel and the Risk Services department, working collaboratively to navigate through issues related to insurance, contracts and other legal matters.
The following is a list of guidelines for the contract review process put forth by the Office of the University Counsel. It contains important information and deadlines to get event contracts processed and signed. Please review the following information carefully before planning your event. For specific information on a particular contract or circumstance, visit the Office of the University Counsel.
- Do not sign contracts yourself! A contract is any document that obligates or legally binds the University to do something in exchange for the other party’s agreement to do something else. Any document that requires a signature is a contract, even if there is no money involved.
- There are only three individuals who have been authorized by the Board of Trustees to sign agreements on behalf of the University: the President, the Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance and the Treasurer.
- In order to have one of these three authorized persons sign your contract, a hard copy of the agreement must first be brought to the Office of the University Counsel for review. The office is located at 378 Columbus Place.
- Contracts to be reviewed must be either hand delivered or sent by campus mail to the Office of the University Counsel, 378 Columbus Place.
- Do not send contracts via e-mail. Contracts must be logged into a tracking system. Therefore, no contract can be reviewed by University Counsel until a hard copy has been logged into the system.
- Review will be for legal compliance and for compliance with applicable University policies. For instance, as just one example, vendor contracts are reviewed to make sure they comply with the University’s insurance requirements. However, the University Counsel’s Office does not evaluate the business terms of the event, such as pricing, event date, time etc. The submitting department must determine if those terms are appropriate before the contract is submitted for review.
- The project, event, or other subject matter of the contract may not be publicly advertised and may not begin until the contract is signed by all parties.
- After the contract has been reviewed and initialed by the University Counsel’s Office, it will be sent to one of the authorized parties for signature.
- After signature, you will be notified that your contract is ready for pick-up. That notification will come from the office of the individual who signed the contract. We do not track the status of a contract once it leaves this Office. The University Counsel also is not involved in this final step.
- The Office of University Counsel reviews 2,500 to 3,000 contracts on an annual basis. While some agreements are a page or two, the majorities exceed five pages and many are over twenty pages. On average, that means a minimum of nine contracts a day are reviewed by University Counsel and often more, to meet this demand. Contract law is only an aspect of the legal business handled by the Office of University Counsel. The office represents the University in all of its varied legal matters.
- Given the sheer volume of contracts at the University, it is imperative that you allow a minimum of 10 working days for review and processing. That means at least two weeks after our Office has received the contract. While in the past, the Office of the University Counsel has been able to make exceptions to this time requirement, based upon the number of agreements, effective immediately, no such exceptions can be made without a personal request to and approval of the vice president for university counsel.
- The two-week minimum requirement is necessary to ensure the University’s agreements are properly logged, reviewed, and tracked. The complexity of some contractual relationships or other legal issues related to a particular contract may extend the review period, however. Therefore, you should submit your agreement as far in advance of the event or the anticipated effective date of the agreement as possible.
- Contracts with terms longer than one year also must be approved by the Board of Trustees. Most event contracts will not fall into this category. An example of a multi-year event contract would be a long-term commitment with a particular venue.
- Failure to timely submit a contract for review or failure to submit a contract at all may result in cancellation of the event or the work to be performed.
Important note: Signing an agreement on your own can also result in personal liability and ramifications such as costs, as well as disciplinary action.
The Risk Services department has specific insurance requirements for events, event venues, and event vendors, suppliers and contractors:
Important insurance-related items to consider:
- All events sponsored by Northeastern University, on or off campus must be properly insured.
- The Risk Services department sets the specific insurance coverage needed.
- If a University department plans to hold an event on or off campus which involves external vendors, the University may seek insurance coverage in the form of an insurance certificate. An outside venue may also seek insurance coverage by Northeastern.
- When planning an event at an offsite location, policy requires insurance coverage for Northeastern by the outside entity. You must obtain proof of coverage from the venue before submitting a contract to the Office of University Counsel.
The insurance requirements generally are:
- Comprehensive general liability insurance in the amounts of $2,000,000 per occurrence/$4,000,000 aggregate.
- Evidence of workers compensation insurance.
*Insurance requirements for University events, including but not limited to outside groups using University facilities should be addressed with the Risk Services department, ext. 5997, well in advance of any planned activities.
*Note: These policies and procedural summaries do not reflect policies concerning student events. For information concerning student event policies, please contact the Office of Campus Activities, ext. 2642.