What is a contract? A contract is an agreement between two parties. This may be an agreement between two individuals, or an agreement between an individual and a company or organization, or an agreement between two organizations/companies. Not all contracts are legal, valid contracts in the eyes of the law, but in the vernacular, a contract is merely an agreement for a service or product. The only fundamental difference between a legal contract and a non-legal contract is enforceability. If one party fails to meet the obligations agreed to in a valid, legal contract, the other party can sue for relief in a court of law. In a non-legal contract, parties have no such recourse. For instance, a contract for murder is not legal, therefore the party contracting for service cannot sue if the other party failed to commit the murder. In the next section, we’ll discuss the elements of a valid contract and what happens when one party fails to deliver or uphold their end of the contract, often referred to as a “breach of contract.”
There are five elements to a legal contract. All five of these elements must be satisfied for an agreement to be a legal, enforceable contract.
After a legal, valid contract has been signed and agreed to by both parties, the law expects both parties to fulfill their obligations as per the terms of the contract. When one party fails to fulfill the terms of the contract, or outright violates all or part of the contract, that party is in breach of contract. When a breach of contract occurs, the other party can attempt to seek relief through the court system, either through mediation or a lawsuit.
Contracts law is extremely vast and complex, but it is considered so critically important in the canon of law that virtually all law schools in the United States dedicate part of their mandatory curriculum to the examination of contracts law. Contracts lawyers are experts in the field of contracts. Different contracts for different goods or services will have different provisions that ought to be included in a well-drafted contract. Contracts lawyers help businesses and individuals in drafting good contracts, protecting their client’s interests through making sure the provisions included are fair and legal. They also represent clients who are being sued for breach of contract. When contracts are breached, contracts lawyers can advise clients on the course of action that may yield the highest probability of a satisfactory result for the client.
We make contracts in many areas of our lives. Since civil law is such an important aspect of the jurisprudence in the United States, each of us inevitably engage in numerous contracts on an almost daily basis. Every time iTunes needs to update, Apple will ask you to agree to the new terms and conditions for use. When you agree, you’ve engaged in a contract with Apple. The service agreement you signed with your cell phone service provider like Verizon or AT&T is a contract. Whenever you agree to work a job for an employer, you sign an employment contract. Waivers of liabilities are contracts. It can be tremendously useful to hire a contracts lawyer to protect your rights, help you determine the limits of your obligations within a contract, and advocate on your behalf if you’ve been sued for breach of contract. A contracts lawyer can help you determine whether the contract you’ve been presented is legally valid. They are also able to help you negotiate the terms of a contract to get a better deal.
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