Difference Between a Memorandum of Understanding and a Term Sheet: Purpose of NDA

Understanding the difference between a Memorandum of Understanding and a Term Sheet is essential to upholding a contract. It will be especially important in cases where parties dispute the terms and circumstances of an agreement.


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    difference between a memorandum of understanding and a term sheet

    Difference Between a Memorandum of Understanding and a Term Sheet

    To understand the difference between a Memorandum of Understanding  and a Term Sheet is essential to upholding a contract. It will be especially important in cases where parties dispute the terms and circumstances of an agreement. To prevent unclear party issues, it’s critical that you comprehend the situations in which these legal documents may be used. Before discussing the difference between a memorandum of understanding and a term sheet.

    Let’s first clarify what these two documents are.

    Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

    Although a Memorandum of Understanding is not legally binding, it aims to outline the shared objectives and vision between your company and the investor. You can escape legal responsibility by including a clause outlining your legal obligations. A company will typically utilize this report when the level of complexity is modest. For instance, you and your investor want to work together to realize a shared objective or vision. 

    Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding is appropriate for the following situations:

    • Outline the structure for your investor’s terms and conditions negotiation.
    • Write down the terms and circumstances that you and your colleague have decided upon at a specific time.
    • Specify the specifics of your commercial agreements and commitments.
    • Process clarification for pre-contractual matters including intellectual property and confidentiality is needed.
    • In order to analyse it and avoid any potential legal complications, one should get legal advice.

    Term Sheet

    Term sheets are frequently used in tandem with Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to define and describe the terms of a particular aspect of an agreement. The term sheet lists important clauses that are part of the agreement, while the MoU defines the whole agreement. A term sheet is frequently not legally enforceable and does not demand adherence to all of its terms.

    It does, however, make clearer what is anticipated of each side and establish expectations for both parties going ahead. Term sheets often comprise fewer provisions than a comprehensive contract and may just touch on a few crucial points. Each party is free to change the terms of a Term sheet without consulting the other. 

    This is similar to the “incorporating” procedure for the firm into your investment. Although this process is important and it’s crucial to pay attention to the specifics. Confusion can be avoided and implied terms can be addressed by giving the investor a simple and unambiguous term sheet.

    Term Sheet for PE/VC Investment firms: PE and VC engage in transactions with the goal of making money. While PE Transactions are made later in the company’s business cycle, VC Transactions are made during the startup or initial phases of the company. To be used on the term sheet, both, however, often required the same phrases. Term sheets for PE/VC investments often include clauses pertaining to valuation, investment size, anti-dilutive provisions, affirmative rights, liquidation, conversion rights, etc.

    Term Sheet  for an M&A: Aiming to provide strategic advantages and facilitate company restructuring, M&A transactions are conducted. Information on the proposed price, the preferred method of payment, the assets and liabilities, the specifics of the business, and other general terms will be included in the term sheet utilized in an M&A transaction.

    Major difference between a Memorandum of Understanding and a Term Sheet

    Basically both the documents have two distinct differences even though they are both unenforceable.

    1. The first thing to note is that a Memorandum of Understanding is typically written in the form of a memorandum. The terms and conditions that you and your investor wish to enter are often focused in a Term Sheet, which is typically informal and written in bullet point form.
    2. Second, Term Sheets are typically the starting point for creating official papers. For instance, as a business owner, you might create a contract that includes provisions referencing the Term Sheet when it comes to the buying or selling of shares in your corporation. The language of a Memorandum of Understanding, on the other hand, is more ambiguous.

    What does the NDA - Non-Disclosure Agreement entail?

    To reduce the possibility of information being revealed too soon when two or more parties are engaging in a transaction that requires privacy, they may issue an NDA – non-disclosure agreement (NDA). An NDA is a legal agreement that spells out the criteria for each party to a deal. It describes the time period during which information cannot be disseminated and the possible consequences of doing so. An NDA’s provisions may be violated, and the offending party may be required to pay compensation.

    An MOU is frequently used as part of ancillary documents (i.e., those that do not cover the main transaction being negotiated) in order to define the specifics pertaining to a particular area of the deal.

    Purpose of NDA in an MOU and in a Term Sheet

    A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is a specific kind of document that lays out the terms, circumstances, and specifics of signing a legally binding agreement. It is an unofficial arrangement involving two or more parties and does not call for the hiring of legal counsel or the execution of a legal contract.

    But, a term sheet is included in ancillary documents (i.e., those that do not address the main transaction being negotiated) in order to provide more particular information about a given aspect of the deal. It frequently goes along with MoUs and normally specifies the important clauses, requirements, obligations, and restrictions pertaining to a certain section of the main contract. 

    It can be utilized in three separate ways:

    • When negotiating an investment possibility with investors who are unfamiliar with your company’s financial expectations, an NID/ND is necessary.
    • As an illustration, if you had recently paid $5 million for property and wanted to negotiate terms for your sale, you might use an NID/ND as a reference document.
    • When two businesses are discussing the sale of goods or equipment, a term sheet is used.

    Importance of Appointment Binder (ABI)

    The official letter to designate an agent is contained in the appointment binder.

    The term “Appointment Binder” (abbreviated as “ABI”) refers to a document that appoints someone as the principal’s official agent of record. A term sheet can be used in connection with an MOU to outline important clauses pertaining to the transaction’s main agreement, which is also referred to as the main agreement. Any agreement that is not a legal agreement or one that calls for the assistance of counsel falls under this category.
    Read More: Memorandum of Association (MOA)


    In short a memorandum of understanding is a pact between two or more parties; it is not a binding legal commitment. A memorandum of understanding’s signatories are frequently not required to abide by it. As an alternative, the other agreements that are a part of the memorandum of understanding can bind the parties to it. A term sheet differs from a memorandum of understanding in that it specifies the parameters of an agreement should the parties opt to accept them. It is also legally binding. Though there are quite a few  difference between a Memorandum of Understanding and a Term Sheet, they are similar in so many ways also.


    The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Term Sheet are not legally binding. Additionally, despite having comparable goals, the two documents are employed in distinct ways during execution.

    The parties to the transaction frequently negotiate the term sheet in order to form tentative agreement due to their desire to proceed with the planned deal. So, in order to efficiently close the deal, this frequently results in extensive conversations among the parties to resolve uncertainty and determine the duties and obligations of the parties. To provide the mechanisms that prevent the other party from unfairly getting the benefit of the other party is the objection to entering the negotiating round. The following crucial clauses must be negotiated in a variety of transactions made through PE, VC, M&A, or any other kind of investment:

    A term sheet and a heads of agreement are not fundamentally different from one another. The terms are frequently interchangeable. It’s also possible to refer to this document as a memorandum of understanding. Before signing a more intricate agreement or beginning a major transaction, such as the sale of a multimillion dollar firm, asset, or share, a term sheet is frequently utilised. It is frequently stated in the term sheet or heads of agreement whether the document is intended to have legal force or not.

    The offered security type; The Capitalization and Valuation; and the ;The Board of Governors ; Rights in Conversion ; Countervailing Provisions ; Choosing Liquidation or Exit;. Purchase cost; Contribution; and . Voting privileges ; Maintaining privacy ; Transfer Restrictions; Indemnity; Break Fees; Precedent Conditions