Contract rights are those granted though a valid contract.

What Are Contract Rights?

Contract rights may be expressly written. An example is the exclusive right one has to use copyrighted material. Contract rights may also be inferred, such as the right to fair and equal disclosure of material.

Both parties to an agreement have contract rights. For instance, one party may have the right to buy a product, while the other party has the right to supply it. Naturally, contracts address different rights, depending on the parties' needs.

A concept related to contract rights is “contract duties,” which refers to a party's obligations under the agreement terms. Contract rights typically involve business matters, such as providing products and services. However, these rights may also involve other subject matter.

Following are common examples of contract rights:

  • Right to sell a product or service
  • Right to buy a particular product or service
  • Right to be the only buyer or seller
  • Rights to repairs or refunds
  • Right to delivery and timely payment
  • Various other rights according to a party's specific intentions

Typical Contract Rights

Every contract has an implied “good faith and fair dealing” requirement. It's a basic right to deal with a party who treats you with fairness and in good faith. Parties should use all reasonable efforts to deal honestly with each other and to disclose all essential matters under the contract.

Specific contract rights may include the following:

  • A right to exclusive ownership or usage of material, label, or product
  • The right to file a lawsuit or to litigate over a contract dispute
  • A right to complete and timely payments for products and services
  • The right to transfer ownership rights or resell them (varies with each agreement)

It's sometimes possible to assign contract rights to another party. This is often beneficial or necessary. For example, a construction company may need another company to help it finish a project. Because assignments and delegations are often quite complicated, you'll probably need the assistance of an attorney in these cases.

Implied Contract Rights

Along with expressly stated contract rights are "implied contract rights,” which exist based on current contract laws and policies. While they can be written into the agreement, they're usually simply implied by federal and state contract laws.

They include the following:

  • Good faith and fair dealing: All parties in valid agreements are expected to act in good faith and with fair dealing. This means they don't act deceptively. They're expected to disclose all relevant information under the agreement.
  • Right to be free from duress: Contracts that are formed under duress — when one party is forced to sign — are invalid. All parties should be free and informed enough to enter into an agreement.
  • Right to be free from fraud: Parties have the right to be free from fraudulent information or misrepresentation.
  • Quasi-contracts: When no enforceable contract exists, the court may imply one to avoid unjust enrichment on a benefiting party. This could happen if a party conferred a benefit onto another party, with the benefiting party knowing that the first party expects compensation for this service. Courts usually let the party recover reasonable value for services even if there's no valid agreement in place.

What if Contract Rights Are Violated?

You might have legal claim if you feel someone has violated your contract rights. Review your agreement and look over the specific provisions that relate to those rights. You should also compile any witness statements and other documents that could help prove the violation. Write a brief account of what happened, explaining how you believe a rights violation occurred.

In the case of a breach of contract, the non-breaching party can still enforce the contract and sue for damages. The non-breaching party might be entitled to the following remedies:

  • Specific performance
  • Damages
  • Contract cancellation
  • Restitution for benefits conferred to the breaching party

All parties to a contract have certain rights. Some are expressly stated, and others are implied. If you're unsure of your rights, it's best to consult a legal professional before you sign any contract. A lawyer can explain any confusing terms and conditions, so you're a well-informed party to the agreement.

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