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The History And Necessity Of Agreements

Published 22 Sep 2021

The History And Necessity Of Agreements

The History And Necessity Of Agreements

The barter of goods or services among different peoples is an age-old practice, probably as old as human history. International trade refers to economic transactions that take place between countries. The accompanying financial transactions are generally conducted for the purpose of providing a nation with commodities it lacks in exchange for those that it produces in abundance; such transactions, functioning with other economic policies, tend to improve a nation’s standard of living. Much of the modern history of international relations concerns efforts to promote freer trade between nations.

This article provides an overview of agreements and their necessity in national and international trade, which should not be ignored in order to secure rights and seek justice in case of disputes whether it is a country, a company or an individual. And in doing so, we will embark on a interesting historical journey.

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent!    

“Verba volant, scripta manent” is a well known Latin proverb. The general meaning of this proverb, which seems to had been quoted in a speech of the senator Caius Titus to the Roman Senate, is that spoken words might easily be forgotten but written documents can always be relied on for conclusive proof. A related meaning is that if two people want to establish a formal agreement about something, it is better to put it in writing, rather than just having an oral agreement.

Did You Know That Written Agreements Date Back To The 13th Century BC?  

Agreements have always existed throughout history. The Kadesh Treaty, which is accepted as the first recorded agreement among them, is therefore of great importance. The most important factor proving the validity of the Treaty of Kadesh, signed between the Egyptians and the Hittites in 1274 BC, is that the agreement is based on a written text.  

This Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty, also known as the Eternal Treaty or the Silver Treaty, is the only Ancient Near Eastern treaty for which the versions of both sides have survived. It is also the earliest known surviving peace treaty.  

The Egyptian version of the peace treaty was engraved in hieroglyphics on the walls of two temples belonging to Pharaoh Ramesses II in Thebes: the Ramesseum and the Precinct of Amun-Re at the Temple of Karnak.  

The Hittite version was found in the Hittite capital of Hattusa, now in Turkey, and is preserved on baked clay tablets uncovered among the Hittite royal palace's sizable archives. Two of the Hittite tablets are displayed at the Museum of the Ancient Orient, part of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, while the third is displayed in the Berlin State Museums in Germany.  

Since 24 Sept 1970, a two-metre-long copper copy of the treaty found in Hattusa (Turkey) has been on display on a wall at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. This week, on 24 September, marks the 51st anniversary of the copper copy being placed on the wall on the second floor of the UN building, in the corridor where the famous Security Council meeting room is located opposite the north entrance.


Istanbul-Turkey                         Karnak-Egypt                               Berlin-Germany


United Nations, New York-USA

Important Features Of The Treaty Of Kadesh


Why Are Agreements Necessary?  

If there was a need for written agreements even before Christ, we can easily understand how inevitable and indispensable agreements are for people today, in an age where both technology and trade are so advanced. Agreements are often made between countries, companies and also private individuals. Even the document we sign at the bank when we apply for a credit card is basically a contract. The commercial contracts of import/export companies, the rental agreements between tenants and landlords, the terms of use we agree to when we sign up to a web application, all written agreements between countries etc. are examples of this.    

The First Modern Trade Agreement: Cobden–Chevalier Treaty  

The Cobden-Chevalier Treaty, the first modern trade agreement, was an Anglo-French free trade agreement signed between Britain and France on 23 January 1860. It is named after its two primary negotiators and originators, British Richard Cobden (1804–1865) and French Michel Chevalier (1806–1879). The treaty set off a "golden age of free trade" in Europe, which was lasted until the late 1870s. It was the first of eight "most favored nation" treaties the British negotiated in the 1860s.  

During the 1850s, Napoleon III worked to create political stability through prosperity. He and Chevalier agreed that the state should encourage industrial modernization and improved transportation in order to increase productivity and make more goods and services accessible to more people. They believed that free trade would further these goals.  

In July 1859 tensions between Britain and France increased due to France's interventions in Italy. The British MP John Bright called on Britain to lower its tariffs in order to improve its relationship with France. Chevalier took this opportunity to contact Cobden in the hope of coming to a free trade agreement. Beginning in October 1859, the two nations, led by Cobden and Chevalier, entered into negotiations. The treaty stating the principle of lowered tariffs and setting maximum values at 30 percent was signed on 23 January 1860.

The Cobden-Chevalier Treaty of 1860 lowered or eliminated duties levied on goods traded between Britain and France, and signaled a victory for liberal economic policies. Britain eliminated most duties on articles de Paris (toys, haberdashery, imitation jewelry), silk, wine and spirits. The French could maintain a maximum of 30 percent duties on some goods, but many were taxed as low as 10 percent. Any tariff decreases that France of Britain offered to a third nation would be extended to each other. Treaties lowering trade barriers among most major European nations, excluding Russia, soon followed.

As a result, the "Cobden-Chevalier" agreement has been conventionally portrayed as a milestone in 19th century liberalisation - in effect as the monther of all free trade. By the 1880's, however, the rise of protectionism in Germany, the United States and elsewhere made the treaty less relevant.

How To Protect Your Organization With Agreements

If you conclude an agreement with another company for cooperation within the sale of services or other issues you should prepare a written agreement. If two business identities in good spirit decide to make and an agreement they are free to do so, also without the interference of and lawyer. Be sure to state as clearly as possible in the agreemet what you are cooperating about.

Describe the following in the agreement:


·         Who are the parties to the agreement?

·         Purpose of the Agreement

·         The agreement includes the following areas...

·         Delivery - where and when?

·         Payment - how much and when?

·         Definitions - do you understand the same by the agreement?

·         Special conditions you have to meet

·         Warranty - how long and how much is covered?

·         Confidentiality and non-competition clause

·         Rights - who has rights to what?

·         Safety - insurance and contract payment

·         Provisions for default

·         Agreement start and end

·         Conflict resolution - if it goes wrong, then what?

·         Annex - drawings and other descriptions

·         Signatures certifying Agreement

Agreement Without Lawyer

You do not have to involve a lawyer to draw up the agreement to make it legally binding. Either both companies' signature or an email from both companies confirming the content of the agreement is sufficient.

For complicated agreements, it is an advantage to involve a lawyer for advice. The lawyer can ensure that all areas are covered, and perhaps the lawyer´s interference ensures greater respect for the agreement from both parties.

Oral Agreements

An oral agreement is a valid contract - if it can be proven! Have you agreed on something orally with a partner so hurry up and write it down and send an email to make sure that you have understood the oral agreement in the same way. If an oral agreement must be enforceable it should be confirmed in writing.

As you can see above, oral agreements must be confirmed in writing to be enforceable. This brings us back to the beginning of the article: "Verba volant, scripta manent"...

Our advice: In business matters, agreements, contracts, confirmations, resolutions, etc., always put the situation in writing to safeguard yourself.