Sample legal contracts are legally binding agreements between two parties that agree to exchange items, services, or ideas of value and that such an exchange be held enforceable in a court of law. Sample legal contracts fulfill this basic definition and can include anything from a loan agreement to a property maintenance contract to a non-disclosure agreement. Such agreements are recommended to be had in writing with the signature and date of signature for both parties, but that is not always necessary for the fulfillment of a contract.

Contract Fundamentals: Determining A Contract’s Necessity

If an item, service, or idea of significant value is being exchanged, such as material goods, labor, or intellectual property, having a contract is recommended. Exchanges that commonly involve a contract include buying or selling a house, beginning employment, or selling the rights to a creative work. Other situations that could involve a contract include contracting a construction crew or offering services as a freelancer.

Contract Fundamentals: Basic Requirements of a Contract

There are three basic elements to a contract, and they are:

  • The offer. This is the terms of the contract that are set out.
  • The acceptance. This is the agreement to the terms between the two parties.
  • The consideration. These are the items of value to be exchanged. For instance, in an employment contract, the considerations would be money for labor.

A good contract will be drawn up so that both parties involved will have a clear understanding of all elements of the contract and what their obligations are to fulfill the contract. A well drawn contract will also provide equal legal protection for both parties against a contract breach.

Contracts should only be made with parties that have the legal authority to participate in the contract. This means that a person must be judged mentally competent and in most cases be an adult. If a minor desires to sign a contract they must do so with a guardian’s supervision unless they have been declared an emancipated minor.

Mental competence is a necessity when entering into a contract, a rule that applies for both minors or an adults. A person must be able to understand what they are signing, including their rights and obligations under the contract. Additionally, a contract will be considered void if a party is intoxicated or in any other way mentally impaired while signing it. Entering a contract under duress, coercion, or any threat of force will also render a contract unenforceable.

Contract Fundamentals: Exchanging Items of Value

Legal contracts involve the exchange of items of value, with this exchange being known as the “consideration.” Considerations can be cash, services, intellectual property, goods, or a promise to exchange such items in the future. The terms of the exchange of such consideration must be stated clearly for them to be legally enforceable.

For example, if in a contract it stated that Party A agreed to sell their car to Party B for $7,000 on March 3rd, 2017, one would have an enforceable contract, since the parties, the items of exchange, and the date were all clearly stated.

On the other hand, if in a contract it stated that Party A agreed to provide some service to Part B in exchange for some compensation at some future date, such a contract would not be enforceable, since neither the items nor the time of exchange was clearly defined.

In addition, considerations need to be adequate to each other to make a fair contract; exchanging a three story house for $5,000 would not constitute adequate consideration, and such a contract would be unlikely to be accepted.

Contract Fundamentals: Ensuring Agreement

Agreement is necessary for any contract to be finalized, so if an offer is made, it must be accepted as well. Therefore when two parties come together to create a contract, there should be some general idea about what each wishes to get from the contract. The basic form for this is that “if A occurs, then B will happen,” a scenario that in legal terms is referred to as a “meeting of the minds.” Making sure all sides have a clear idea of what they want beforehand will save time, since less contractual revisions will need to be made later.

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