Consent contract law relates to how the parties in a contract understand the terms of the agreement. Consent is one of three important elements that make up a legal contract.

Consent in Contracts

When two parties wish to enter into an agreement, they can use a contract, which will outline the rights and responsibilities of all parties. Several important elements exist in a contract, including consent. In basic terms, consent is the understanding that the parties have of the contract.

Both parties in the contract must give their consent voluntarily. If there are certain mistakes, or if one party attempts to deceive or pressure the other, consent will not be considered voluntary or genuine.

Contractual Obligation and Nature

When a contract has the potential to affect the general public, statutes can dictate the contract's terms. Insurance contracts, for example, can include terms that are restricted by statute so that the person carrying the insurance will have access to resources if they are hurt in an accident.

If there is no agreement between two parties, whether implied or expressed, no contract exists. Only valid contracts can be enforced. The court is the only body that has the ability to enforce a contract between two parties. The court will only enforce agreements that already exist, meaning they cannot create an agreement by imposing terms on parties.

Generally speaking, if the parties that made the contract are considered competent, and the terms of the contract are equitable, then the contract would be valid and its terms legally binding. A good faith meeting of the minds between two parties must have taken place in order for a contract to have binding force. After a valid contract has been formed, none of the parties can reject the agreement.

One type of contract is a contract under seal. This type of contract can only be legally enforced if it has been stamped with a seal. The purpose of the stamped seal is to indicate that both parties have agreed to the contract and are aware of the legal consequences of the agreement.

An express contract is another common form of contract. When this type of contract is formed, the parties will express the terms of the agreement either in written or verbal form, expressing their consent to the contracts.

Basics of Consent

When it comes to contracts, consent is a type of deliberation. When a person possesses the mental ability to come to a reasoned decision, they can demonstrate their consent by completing an action that was requested by another person.

With consent, there is an assumption that you have the physical ability to act. In order for consent to be present, a party should not be influenced by outside forces. These circumstances will eliminate consent in a contract:

  • Duress
  • Fraud
  • Certain types of mistakes

If only one party in a contract makes a mistake, this is known as a unilateral mistake. If the other party is not aware of the mistake, the contract's enforceability will not be affected. When a unilateral mistake is related to a fact, the contract will not be affected. When both parties in a contract make the exact same mistake, and this mistake is related to an important fact in the agreement, the contract will be voided. If the mistake is related to the legal consequences of the contract, however, the contract is still valid and binding.

Consent is Required

A contract cannot be valid or legally binding unless consent is given. Consent, essentially, occurs when two parties mutually agree to form a contract with each other. Consent cannot be given under pressure. If one or both parties provided their consent under duress, the contract will not be legal. If there is undue influence or duress, it is presumed that it is not possible for the parties to have freely given their consent.

Both duress and undue influence can cause a contract to be voided. This also means that during affirmation, the parties can lose their ability to reverse the contract, meaning they would not be able to restore themselves to the state they were in prior to the contract. Loss of the ability to reverse the contract may also eliminate the rights of third parties, if any exist.

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