When is a contract formed?
5 July 2019 by Andreea Brindas
In the modern world, contracts govern our daily lives, from our bank account and credit cards to our mobile phones, car purchases and so on. Even the simple act of placing an order online is creating, in essence, a binding contract. This blog will briefly explain what a contract is and set out the circumstances when a contract is formed and binding.
What is a contract?
In its simplest form, a contract can be described as an ‘understanding between two or more parties’ which gives rise to rights and duties among those who agree to it. There are various types of contracts and their respective rights and duties may depend on the contract terms and whether it is a commercial contract or a consumer contract.
To form a contract, generally, you would require the following key elements:
- Consideration; and
- Intention to create legal relations.
In addition, certainty of terms may also be a requirement considering that in order to create a binding obligation, the terms of a contract must be agreed and certain as a result.
What you should be aware of
It is important to note that this does not necessarily require a party to understand the terms of the contract- i.e. a simple signature of the contract may indicate the party agreed to it.
It is also important to bear in mind that a contract does not have to be in writing- an oral binding contract may be formed if all the above (i)-(iv) elements are present.
Other considerations may include (but not limited to):
- A contract may be made partly orally and partly in writing;
- A contract may be implied from the parties’ conduct- i.e. an offer can be accepted by behaviour of one party (for example, sending the goods and/or paying the purchase price);
- A contract may not be formed if one of the parties lacks capacity/authority; and/or
- A contract may not be formed if it is subject to conditions that are not fulfilled.
Most lawyers are concerned with the basic questions of contract law which include (but are not limited to) whether a contract has been formed. If you have any doubts about the validity of a contract or intend to enter into a new contract we suggest you seek legal advice.
The Corporate & Commercial Department here at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP can assist you with the preparation or variation of a contract, offer you advice on current contracts and their legal implications or any other related services; as well as assist you with the preparation of any other documentation required and guide you through the transaction.
Should you require any information or assistance do not hesitate to get in touch. Please call 01206 700113 or email [email protected]
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