Essential features of a valid contract Contracts come in all shapes and sizes. Some are verbal, some are written. Some are formal, some informal.
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The use of the internet and electronic technology is also becoming increasingly common in the context of forming contractual relationships. It is, therefore, important to understand the essential features which make a contract valid, binding, and enforceable. What is a contract? A contract is an agreement between two or more parties that is intended to be enforcable. A contract may be created: * Orally; In writing (including by electronic means or through a website); * By inference or conduct; or * By a combination of all or any of the above. Essential elements? For a binding contract to be formed there must be: * An offer which is accepted and for which valid consideration is given; * An intention to create a legal relationship; and * Certainty of terms. Special rules and principles may apply to contracts that concern specific subject matter, such as employment contracts, the sale of land, and the sale of goods. The offer * Must be communicated. Can be revoked at any time prior to acceptance. * Must be distinguished from an invitation to treat which is where a party communicates that it is prepared to enter negotiations with a view to forming a contract. The acceptance * The acceptance: * Must be communicated. * Must be of the offer made, otherwise it could be a ecounter-offeri. * If posted, occurs on the date posted, if by phone, fax, or email, it occurs when received. Consideration * Must be evaluablei. Something must be supplied in return for the promise made by the offeror, eg money. Must not be unlawful or gratuitous. * Must not be something already done or suffered (past consideration).
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