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Exploring The Elements Of Contract Law
By Brian Westfall Published: 11/03/2009
Contracts are an important area of legal expertise. They're used frequently in business and personal affairs. Thousands of court cases have been tried on the basis of enforcing contractual agreements. Often, disputes occur because one or more parties misunderstands the nuances of contract law. In order for a contract to be legally binding, certain elements must exist. In this article, we'll describe the components of a contractual agreement that must be present in order for a contract to be legally enforceable.
Consent To Terms
All parties must agree to the terms of a contract for it to be legally binding. The parties must understand and consent to the same terms. For example, if a contract stipulates the sale of an apple, there may be confusion. The contract is unenforceable if one party believes the terms reflect a piece of fruit and another party believes they reflect a computer. All parties must understand the terms and agree to them.
Acceptance Is Required
Contract law requires that an offer is made and accepted for a contract to be legally binding. For example, the offer of a computer for $700 must be accepted by another party for a contract to exist. If the other party offers $600, the original offer (i.e. $700) is considered rejected and the contract is not binding.
In order for a contractual agreement to be enforceable, there must be something of value that changes ownership. This value can be in the form of money, products and goods, or services. It is important to note that the exchange of value is not scrutinized with regards to whether the terms of the contract were negotiated well. For example, if the seller provides a product that is considered useless, yet meets the terms of the contract, the agreement is binding and the buyer has little recourse. Bad skills of negotiation is not a valid defense.
The terms of a contract must be met by all parties for that contract to be considered legally binding. For example, if the contract addresses the sale of a computer for $700 and the offer is accepted, the buyer is not legally bound to offer payment until the computer is delivered (unless the contract states otherwise). If the seller has failed to deliver the computer to the buyer, he cannot demand payment. That is, the contract cannot be enforced.
Contract law can be a complex area of legal study. While many contractual agreements are simple in nature, others can be quite complicated. Those who are involved in a dispute regarding the enforceability of a contract's terms should seek the advice of a lawyer who has expertise in contract law.