A contract is an agreement enforceable at law. Contracts may be express or implied. If the agreement is shown by the direct words of the parties, spoken or written, the contract is an express one. If such agreement can only be shown by the acts and conduct of the parties, interpreted in the light of the subject matter and of the surrounding circumstances, then the contract is an implied one.
The quote referenced above is the standard jury instruction from the Connecticut judicial branch. Many times we have clients who come to us and say we didn’t have a contract, we just had an agreement or an understanding. In most cases, or at least in many cases, a handshake and a man’s word is still enforceable as a contract. Even if no words are exchanged, a contract can still be implied.
For instance, suppose you go to a one of the old self-service gas pumps. You get out of your car you lift the lever you look at the gas station attendant and not at him, and then you pump your gas watching the numbers on the pump ring up to $43. By your actions of pumping the gas it is implied (by your conduct) that you agree to the price on the pump. Now I know that’s a very simplistic situation, but in business there are other situations that are analogous to the gas station situation. For instance in many retail situations the vendor simply comes to the store, stocks your shelves and then provides you with an invoice. Could that be an enforceable contract? The answer is that it might be.
When were presented with a new case we look at every possible angle for recovery. It’s not just what’s in writing that is important, but the conduct of the parties may be equally as important.
If you have any questions about contract law, please contact the Magwood Law Firm in Norwich Connecticut, at (860) 373-2386.