The Mind-bending Memoranda of Understanding Quiz
by Staff
Memoranda of understanding are the laid-back guys at the law office. They're a bit more formal than a handshake but less complicated than a contract. How much do you know about these ultra-common agreements?

Memoranda of understanding (MOUs) are basically an agreement that comes before this?

  • an agreement
  • an argument
  • a handshake deal

What are MOUs sometimes called?

  • letters of intent
  • memorandum of agreement
  • all of the above

MOUs are considered a form of what?

  • hard law
  • soft law
  • medium-rare law

Why do so many entities prefer to use MOUs instead of contracts?

  • They can use the same MOU for every situation.
  • MOUs aren't legally binding.
  • An MOU takes only a few weeks to write; contracts take months.

In international law, countries sometimes write MOUs to avoid more formal documentation, such as this.

  • treaties
  • contracts
  • TPS reports

Why do interagency government agreements often take the form of MOUs?

  • MOUs create a legally enforceable agreement in case one party slacks off.
  • MOUs create more red tape.
  • MOUs make it easy to define each party's responsibilities.

When two parties are negotiating, what are MOUs good for?

  • preventing lawsuits
  • creating legal consideration
  • documenting each party's intentions

What’s one of the risks of using an MOU instead of a contract?

  • MOUs don't accurately reflect either party's real intention.
  • MOUs typically lack contract standards that could protect both parties in the event that something goes wrong.
  • MOUs consume writing time, and thus, create more legal fees.

Why did George W. Bush and John Kerry agree to an MOU during the 2004 presidential race?

  • to avoid crossing paths on the campaign trail
  • to make sure they spent the same amount of campaign funds on TV ads
  • to manipulate the structure of debates

If an MOU contains the language and structure of a contract, what might a judge do if the parties wind up in court?

  • recognize the MOU as a non-binding agreement
  • call the MOU a contract
  • throw out the case

For a judge to find an MOU a binding agreement, he will look for what key elements?

  • offer and acceptance
  • intention and consideration
  • all of the above

What's one reason countries use MOUs in place of treaties?

  • Treaties require approval from legislators; MOUs do not.
  • MOUs carry more legal weight in international matters.
  • International lawyers prefer MOUs, which are easier to understand than treaties.

Why do a lot of lawyers dislike MOUs?

  • MOUs are so simple and easy to use that they don't require a lawyer's services.
  • MOUs contain language that's hard for lawyers to understand.
  • MOUs often contain vague or uncertain language that can result in lawsuits and appearances in court.

In one notable example, the United States and Cuba signed an MOU criminalizing which activity?

  • hijacking
  • spying
  • trespassing

MOUs are rather informal, but they're actually more formal than what kind of agreement?

  • gentlemen's agreement
  • verbal contract
  • written estimate

Even though MOUs typically aren't binding, what wonderful purpose do they serve?

  • they motivate parties to put their heads together and plan a project
  • they help each party organize their roles and define project objectives
  • all of the above

For an MOU to be official, it must be documented on what kind of material?

  • official office stationary
  • a bar napkin
  • all of the above

As two parties negotiate a business deal, they might include which sort of details in the MOU?

  • all of the elements that would normally make up a contract, but without the binding parts
  • wording that commits each party to many binding agreements
  • a legally binding privacy provision

What's one way two parties can make it absolutely clear that an MOU isn't intended to be a contract?

  • They can include a phrase like, "This MOU is in no way a binding agreement."
  • They can both sign it in blood.
  • They can cross out the word "contract" at the top of the document.

Why does the Securities Exchange Commission use MOUs instead of treaties to pursue financial criminals living abroad?

  • MOUs legally commit foreign leaders to punishing the criminals.
  • Treaties take too long, but MOUs help expedite time-sensitive financial cases.
  • Treaties are mostly just for political shows.