Understanding contract formalities is a very important topic for anyone who plans to go into a contract with another party. Whether you run a business or want to conduct a deal with a friend or acquaintance, there need to be some formalities in your contract to prevent any issues should the parties come to a disagreement about the contract terms. Formalities are also important if you want to make changes to the contract at any point.

What Formalities Are Required for a Contract Amendment?

If you want to amend a contract that is already existing, you need to ensure that you are following the formalities that have been established in the agreement. A contract may state that to make changes, you have to provide adequate notice within a certain time period to the other party that you want to change the contract.

These formalities have to be met for an amendment to be valid and enforceable. If the contract includes an amendment of an “entire agreement” clause, this section will detail the formalities that need to be followed to make the amendments binding for all involved.

There are some states that will have more requirements to make amendments for certain kinds of contracts. This can include a requirement for witness signatures on the amendment.

Formalities of a Contract

Contracts can be formed when there is nothing in writing. Even if you have an oral agreement, that does not mean there are no formalities included in that contract. The Statute of Frauds states that there are some types of contracts that have to be in writing to be enforced. They include the following:

· A contract that cannot be completed within a year of the formation of the contract

· A contract for the sale or transfer of property

· A contract that promised to guarantee another person’s debt

In all of these situations, the Statute of Frauds can be used as a defense when enforcing a contract.

Formalities for a Binding Contract: A Conventional Steer?

Should the parties opt to change how they enter into a contract, you need to record their agreement to have evidence if you need it at a later date. There are many newer options used today to help with this process.

The use of digital signatures is very prevalent in contracts. As long as all parties to the contract agree, using digital signatures in a draft contract is an effective way to enforce a contract.

It is human instinct to want to see a real signature written by hand or one that is sent via fax or email. However, there is danger in forging signatures. One who is willing to commit this crime would be less likely to log into a computer and the associated accounts to forge a digital signature because of its inherent risk of getting caught.

There are many different types of contracts that are required to be in writing. An assignment of intellectual property, for instance, has to be in writing. Other examples include the transfer of real estate or deeds.

There are exceptions to most rules. The laws in different countries will vary and may need more or less formality.

Legal Formalities in Contracts Can Be Perilous Pitfalls

It is not unusual for some parties to attempt to cut corners to get into a contract. While there are some formalities that are not as important as others, you should not disregard the formalities to speed up a project.

While some formalities are required by law, others will help decrease the chance of any unforeseen circumstances or high legal costs associated with a contract dispute. It is crucial to include many different categories of formalities when putting a contract together.

One mistake seen often is not using the correct name of the entity. This could result in getting into a contract with the wrong party. This is often a minor oversight, like forgetting to place a comma before LLC or Inc. in a company name.

There are more serious errors that could be made, however. You have to make sure you are correctly identifying all parties by the correct name and title. Otherwise, you could find yourself in court facing high legal fees as well as being responsible for paying out a contract you may not have intended.

If you need help with contract formalities, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.