By: Juliana Twumwaa Obeng The writer
It might interest you to know that contracts surround our dealings in everyday life. What then is a contract, and why should you consider one in your daily dealings.Contracts are legally binding agreements between two or more parties that outline the terms and conditions of a specific transaction or relationship. Contracts can be oral or written, but written contracts are generally considered more reliable and enforceable in court. In this article, I will discuss the various types of contracts, the essential elements of a contract, and the importance of contracts in business and everyday life.
Types of Contracts:There are many different types of contracts, including employment contracts, lease agreements, sales contracts, and service contracts. Each type of contract has its unique characteristics and requirements, but all contracts share certain essential elements. Some contracts are simple and straightforward, while others are complex and require extensive negotiation and drafting.
Essential Elements of a Contract
For a contract to be valid, it must contain certain essential elements. These include an offer, acceptance, consideration, and the intention to create legal relations. Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements:
Offer: An offer is a proposal made by one party to another, which includes specific terms and conditions. The offeror is the party making the offer, and the offeree is the party receiving the offer. For example, if a business owner offers to sell a product to a customer at a specific price, that is an offer.
Acceptance: Acceptance is the offeree’s agreement to the terms and conditions of the offer. Acceptance can be expressed or implied, and it must be communicated to the offeror. For example, if the customer agrees to buy the product at the specified price, that is an acceptance.
Consideration: Consideration is something of value that is exchanged between the parties. Consideration can be money, goods, services, or something else of value. For example, if the customer pays the specified price for the product, that is consideration.
Intention to create legal relations: For a contract to be valid, both parties must have the intention to create legal relations. This means that both parties understand that the contract is legally binding, and they are willing to be held accountable for their obligations under the contract. However, the following are some exceptions:
Domestic and Social Agreements: Agreements made between family members or friends are presumed to be non-binding as they are considered to be social or domestic arrangements.
Gifts: Gifts are not considered legally binding as they are not made in exchange for consideration. However, once a gift is given, it cannot be reclaimed.
Honorariums: An honorarium is a payment made to an individual as a token of appreciation or goodwill. It is not legally binding as it is not given in exchange for a service or consideration.
Letters of Comfort: Letters of comfort are non-binding statements of intent made by one party to another. They are not legally binding, but they may be relied upon by the recipient.
Preliminary Agreements: Preliminary agreements, such as letters of intent or memorandums of understanding, may be non-binding if they do not contain all the necessary terms to form a legally binding contract.
Public Policy: Agreements that are contrary to public policy, such as agreements to commit a crime, are not legally binding.
Illegal Contracts: Contracts that involve illegal activities, such as contracts to buy or sell drugs, are not legally binding.
It is important to note that the exceptions to the intention to create legal relations may vary depending on the jurisdiction, and it is always advisable to seek legal advice when drafting or entering into an agreement.
Importance of Contracts:Contracts are essential in business and everyday life because they provide a legal framework for agreements and transactions. Contracts help to protect the interests of both parties and ensure that they are both held accountable for their obligations. Contracts can help to prevent disputes and provide a clear path for resolving conflicts.
In business, contracts are used for a wide range of purposes, including employment agreements, sales agreements, lease agreements, and service agreements. Contracts help to establish clear expectations and responsibilities between the parties, and they can help to prevent misunderstandings and disputes.
In everyday life, contracts are used for a wide range of purposes as well. For example, when you purchase a car, you sign a contract that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale. When you rent an apartment, you sign a lease agreement that outlines your responsibilities as a tenant and the landlord’s responsibilities.
Enforcing ContractsIf one party fails to fulfill their obligations under a contract, the other party may be able to take legal action to enforce the contract. In most instances, this typically involves filing a lawsuit and seeking damages for breach of contract. To be successful in a breach of contract lawsuit, the plaintiff must be able to prove that a valid contract existed, that the defendant breached the contract, and that the plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the breach.
Parting WordsContracts are essential in business and everyday life because they provide a legal framework for agreements and transactions. Whether you are buying a car, leasing an apartment, or entering into a business partnership, a contract can help to protect your interests and ensure that both parties are held accountable for their obligations. By understanding the essential elements of a contract and the importance of contracts in everyday life, you can make informed decisions and protect your legal rights. So, when next you decide to sign on that dotted black line, make sure that you understand all the terms or better still, you can get a legal practitioner to interpret them for you. It wouldn’t also hurt to have these at your fingertips.
The writer is a BL candidate at the Gambia Law School. She is driven by her affinity to the legal profession and relies on Precedents and Acts of the National Assembly to educate the public on bits and pieces of the application of the Laws of the Gambia and Ethics of the legal profession. These write-ups are for educational purposes only and not to serve as a substitute for Legal Advice. Email: email@example.com
Employment Contracts: “What to Include in an Employment Contract” by the Balance Careers (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-to-include-in-an-employment-contract-2061583)
Lease Agreements: “Lease Agreement Guide” by Nolo (https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/lease-agreement-guide-32657.html)
Sales Contracts: “What is a Sales Contract?” by Investopedia (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sales-contract.asp)
Service Contracts: “Service Contract” by Legal Dictionary (https://legaldictionary.net/service-contract/)
Offer and Acceptance: “What Is an Offer in Contract Law?” by the Balance Small Business (https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-an-offer-in-contract-law-398836)
Consideration: “What is Consideration in a Contract?” by Legal Zoom (https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-is-consideration-in-a-contract)
Intention to Create Legal Relations: “Intention to Create Legal Relations in Contract Law” by Law Teacher (https://www.lawteacher.net/free-law-essays/contract-law/intention-to-create-legal-relations-contract-law-essay.php)
Business Contracts: “Why are contracts important in business?” by Chron (https://smallbusiness.chron.com/contracts-important-business-55971.html)
Everyday Contracts: “The Importance of Contracts in Our Daily Lives” by TOSOLIFE (https://tosolife.com/importance-of-contracts/)
Breach of Contract: “Breach of Contract” by Legal Information Institute (https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/breach_of_contract)
Damages: “Damages in Contract Law” by Legal Dictionary (https://legaldictionary.net/damages-in-contract-law/)
llenges Facing the Legal Aid System in The Gambia”