Offer and acceptance; mutual assent

A contract is formed when there is a valid offer, and a valid acceptance. To be valid, an offer does not have to be exact or precise, but needs only to be reasonable under the circumstances. Likewise, an acceptance does not have to be a formal written acknowledgement (unless the offer specifically required it.)

The key here is mutual assent – did both parties agree to the essence of the deal? If so, a contract was likely formed. If not, either because of a mistake of fact or law, it may be impossible to enforce the contract.

Sometimes my clients are thrown off because the deal was not in writing. That may not matter – oral contracts may be binding. (Of course, proof will be an issue!) In some cases, a contract is invalid unless it is in writing. But, don’t think that means it has to be spelled out exactly. I had one contract that was held enforceable when it was simply a chain of emails. There was no agreement on some issues, but the essence of the deal was in the email, and the Court held it to be enforceable.

For help with a contract issue, please give us a call.

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