Legal jargon, especially in the English language, has perplexed and misled many trained lawyers, let alone those that have never undertaken legal scholarship in their lives. Phrases like ‘obstruction of justice', ‘circumstantial proximity' and ‘act of god' have found a place in popular culture, and hopefully in the process a larger group of people have developed a basic understanding of how they operate.
Unfortunately, even the most educated and well-read individual can fall victim to this one ’scam’ - the supposedly legal operations of MULPOR Company S.A.
Ladies and gentlemen, check out the website https://www.inter-fairs.com/. Designed to look like it could be an established enterprise’s landing page, this is an online database that provides a fraction of the same information that is publicly available on official fair websites.
The ‘about us’ tab is where you find the following content -
The International Fair Directory is the largest international platform offering a global overview of the current scene of fairs and exhibitions. The platform www.inter-fairs.com provides continuously updated information on thousands of international and local fairs, millions of associated companies as well the organizers themselves.
The company accesses the list of exhibitors that is made publicly available on official fair websites. This includes the list of galleries at art fairs worldwide. It then contacts the specific exhibitors by post, with a single letter and a fillable form. A cursory reading could lead someone to believe the letter is either from the official fair team, or an organisation with an established working relationship with the fair. However, there are numerous disclaimers that tell the reader otherwise. Any fair exhibitors who submit the form, wittingly or unwittingly become legally bound to pay EUR 1271 or EUR 1212 per year, as specified in the (VERY) fine print.
These two documents have been assembled by someone who knows how to take advantage of trends and practices in corporate culture, and perhaps in advertising too. The disclaimers that allow the company to survive in Uruguay, which is where it is registered, are just as elusive to the average reader as the fine print that specifies the fees.
It may seem clear here where you have been alerted to the reality before you read the document, but in the setting where these letters are delivered, the vulnerability of the exhibitor, who acts as a consumer, should not be underestimated.
Those running the website do not target any specific industry. Whether its tech, luxury goods or even raw materials, the company may reach out via post and follows up through calls where they pose as part of the official fair team, or an affiliate.
Some fair organisers have noted and highlighted the danger to their exhibitors in the past, but the company has survived for years now without falling foul of the law - simply through the art of legal jargon. In this instance, it is worth recognising formatting as ‘jargon' even though it is different from the written word.
My favourite part was the follow-up call I received at work, from someone I can only suppose is a frustrated lady whose current job scope involves calling fair exhibitors who are unresponsive to their posted mail. I hope her career path improves dramatically, and soon.