On Ethics and Law: Is the Morality Clause Enforceable?

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Of course yes, and we refer to the facts: in October of last year, the American artist Kanye West spread through his Twitter account a series of messages of markedly anti-Semitic content: “You have been playing with me and trying to exclude anyone who opposes your agenda”; “I can’t be anti-Semitic because there are also black people who are Jewish”; “They’re only interested in making money.” Those were some of the comments Kanye West spread through the networks.

As a result of those expressions, Instagram and Twitter proceeded to (at least) temporarily close West’s accounts on both social networks. And a few days later, Adidas, one of the artist’s main sponsors, made its reaction public: it called such comments unacceptable, and expressed that it would not tolerate anti-Semitic attitudes or hate speech of any kind by its sponsors. Then, and using its contractual powers, Adidas unilaterally terminated its sponsorship agreement with West.

Here is the so-called morality clause: one that enables the termination of the contract when one of the parties makes statements or displays conduct at odds with morality and public conscience. In this particular case, expressions that incite racial hatred.

The reader will easily grasp the importance of this type of clause. Stars sponsored by brands usually have millions of followers on their social networks. Hence the great influence of everything they say or do. If you add to that the rise of hate speech in current times, The meaning of so-called morality clauses as a first-order tool when terminating sponsorship contracts is easily understood: these clauses enable the unilateral termination of the contract, without incurring any liability. Moreover, they make a decisive contribution to the fight against discrimination. It’s no small feat.

For any questions regarding this material, please contact Martín González (l[email protected]) and/or Leonardo Melos ([email protected])



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