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Understanding Representations and Warranties in Transaction: A Guide for Michigan Business Owners

The purchase or sale of business assets is a pivotal moment for any small to medium-sized business. Much is at stake. And these transactions are rarely as simple as shaking hands over a signed contract. Within purchase and sale agreements are critical provisions known as representations and warranties. These are assurances one party gives to another, often shaping the foundation of a deal.

For a Michigan business owner, understanding these terms and their impact on a transaction is crucial. In this article, we shed light on the role of representations and warranties in asset purchase and sale agreements, and discuss risks to look out for to protect your interests.

Why Do Representations and Warranties Matter in Buying or Selling Assets?

In any business transaction, mutual trust is critical. 

Consider a scenario where an Ann Arbor-based industrial company is selling a piece of heavy machinery to a construction firm. The buyer isn’t just purchasing a massive metal structure; they’re investing in its ability to perform tasks, its safety features, and its longevity. They rely on the seller’s descriptions of the equipment’s capabilities, and its maintenance history.

This is where contractual representations become important. They offer a snapshot of the equipment’s current condition, from the hours it’s been in operation to any recent replacements of parts. These aren’t just verbal assurances; they should be enshrined in the agreement.

However, business owners can’t merely rely on representations in a transaction. Representations need to be backed up by warranties. When a seller warrants the accuracy of their representations, they’re giving more than just information; they’re contractually obligating themselves to make things right if something goes wrong.

Addressing Concerns with Contractual Safeguards

The concerns that arise during business asset transactions—whether it’s the reliability of machinery or the authenticity of intellectual property—can be addressed through representations and warranties. When drafted and reviewed with care, they provide both parties with confidence in their deal. Below are some practical tips to consider when dealing with these safeguards:

Be Specific: Clarity is paramount. General or vague language can lead to misunderstandings or disputes down the road. Whether it’s detailing the condition of equipment or the accuracy of inventory lists, be as specific as possible. It ensures both parties have the same understanding and sets clear expectations.

Avoid Over-Promising: In the excitement of a potential deal, there can be a temptation for a seller to paint assets in the best light possible. However, it’s crucial to stick to facts. Over-promising or providing warranties without proper verification can lead to significant liabilities later on.

Ask Questions: As a buyer, never hesitate to seek clarification. If a representation or warranty isn’t clear or seems too broad, ask for more information. 

Get Expert Help: Engaging with experienced legal counsel can help ensure your transaction contains solid representations and warranties, and enable you to avoid common legal pitfalls when buying or selling assets.

By keeping these tips in mind and approaching representations and warranties with both care and diligence, Michigan business owners can make more informed decisions, ensuring a smoother transaction process and better protection of their interests.

What Happens If Something Goes Wrong?

Even with the best precautions, things can go awry when buying or selling assets. A misrepresented asset or an unmet warranty can lead to disputes. So, what do Michigan business owners do if they find themselves in such a situation? Let’s explore some of the options.

Possible Remedies: When one party feels that the other hasn’t held up their end of the deal due to a breach in representations or warranties, several solutions can come into play. They might seek a refund or a reduction in the purchase price. In other cases, the offending party may be required to fix the issue, be it a malfunctioning machine or addressing a title discrepancy. Ideally, the scope and extent of possible remedies for breaches of representations should be clearly defined in the contract.

The Role of Insurance: Sometimes, unforeseen issues aren’t a result of negligence but rather unexpected situations. This is where insurance comes in. Representations and warranties insurance, for instance, can cover financial losses resulting from breaches or inaccuracies in the transaction agreement. Having this layer of protection can provide both the buyer and the seller with added peace of mind, ensuring that even if things don’t go as planned, there’s a safety net in place.

Navigating the aftermath of a transaction gone wrong can be challenging. Yet, with experienced legal counsel, a proactive approach, and an understanding of the available remedies, Michigan business owners can address issues effectively, safeguarding their interests in the process.


In Michigan, grasping the details of representations and warranties, and conducting thorough due diligence, are key for ensuring smooth business transactions. The right knowledge and expert advice can steer business owners clear of challenges.

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