Contract Law

A contract is basically a document which has a set of legal rules regarding an agreement agreed by two or more parties. Sir F. Pollock explains it as ???A promise or set of promises which the law will enforce??? this is the basic essence of a contract which has been used for centuries.
As we entered the new millennium there has been an increase of the number of businesses. Including the rise of the internet and the growing popularity of internet shopping, we need to much more about contract law. Knowledge of contract law is vital for the protection of customers and the businesses from misunderstanding. The are some key elements which have to be present within a contract for it to valid in law the elements which it must include is offer, counter offer (if required) acceptance , consideration . Without these key points a contract cannot be verified by law and becomes hard to prove or even void.
In order for a contract to be created there are some traditional but also vital elements it must contain in order for it to stand in law. These key elements contain the initial offer from one party to another this is simply the suggestion of the transaction. This is followed up with the counter offer in which some terms of the contract are changed, this does not have to be accepted. Once the parties which are involved with the contract come to a final agreement, acceptance of the contract is the next step. This is when the parties come to a mutual agreement with each other. We will now look at these elements is greater detail firstly offer, G.H.Treitel defines an offer as ???…an expression of willingness to contract on certain terms, made with the intention that it shall become binding as soon as it is accepted by the person to whom it is addressed???.
A binding agreement is considered to be a contract whether this is written or verbally between 2 or more parties this is bound by law. The parties which have made the agreement must be competent this makes the contract binding. In binding agreement there must have certain elements such as an offer and an acceptance an example of this would be if tom told craig that he would sell his motorbike to him for ?1000 and they both agreed to these terms. This agreement is legal in purpose supported by consideration in the way required by law which is created by two parties who gave genuine assent. All adults are considered to be competent all the parties involved in a contract must be of sound mind this simply means the parties must not under the influence of any substances such as alcohol or drugs and finally none of the parties should be mentally ill. The purpose of competency is so any party which enters a contract can not be taken advantage of. Children are able to enter into contracts but they are not bound in law because they lack experience and more vulnerable than adults. So example if Tom asked Craig to buy his motor bike and Craig refused then later tom took Craig to a bar and gave a him and gave him some drinks then asked again and Craig accepted, this would be void because Craig would be not be competent. The contract can not be misleading in any way because this will result in the contract being void in this example of the case Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co (1893) where the smoke ball business promised a ?100 fee to be given to anyone contract influenza after using the smoke balls they provided which they promised could cure anything. The offer must be communicated to the offeree for it to stand up in law but if the offer is not communicated to offee the contract does not have to be agreed for example if an award was given for a lost dog but the offee does not know about the reward he can not ask for it after he has given the dog back . an example of this can be seen in the case of Williams v Carwardine (1833) . Another aspect of a contract law is the counter offer this is when the offeree refuses the initial offer and changes some aspects of the contract. This does not have to be accepted by the offerer . An example of this would be if Craig decided that ?1000 was too much and offered ?500 for the motor bike. Tom does not have to accept this counter offer and the contract would not be agreed. Consideration is the next part this is one of the vital parts of the contract this is when one party gives in exchange for something else. If one party does not give anything in the contract this makes it not a legal contract and would be called a contract with the lack of consideration by one party. An example of this would be a if a relative offers to pay for your university fees if you get straight A??™s in college but then decides not to. That promise would not be legally binding because they are not getting anything in return for paying for the fees. Genuine accent must be giving into the contract for example if someone is scratching their arm in an auction and the auctioneer saw this as a bid this is not a genuine consent. In the modern world their are businesses online with instant communication such as ???ebay??? this makes the genuine assent differcult to determine because this is online. None can enter an agreement which is illegal for example if someone asked you to steal a car and they??™ll pay you 80 pounds. Stealing illegal so they this contract would be void in law.
There are two forms of contract formal and simple. A formal contract has to be written in a special form for it to be enforced in a court of law. One main example is property ownership there is only one standard way of transferring ownership in the form of a formal contract. The majority of contracts are not formal instead they are simple contracts these could be made verbally or implied. Simple contracts are quite hard to prove in court because there is no written information to prove that the agreement even took place. If at anytime one of the parties dies the contract does not stay valid it terminates for example in the case of Bradbury v Morgan (1862) when Bradbury made a deal with his brother JM Leigh to credit his account but JM Leigh later died and Bradbury asked for his money after going through with the contract but was refused payment by JM Leigh??™s executers (MORGAN). They claimed they had no liable for any of JM Leigh??™s depts.
In the modern world full of instant communication it is easy to make contact with someone easily even if that someone was on the other side of the world. So is it suitable for the postal system to still be round. In this digital age there are faster ways of communicating such as e-mails through the internet. This is good if a contract has to be done quickly but postal services are still used to send contracts to parties. In law there is a rule which binds the offeror who sends the contract to the agreement whether or not in a few days he does not want to go through with the contract, this is referred to as the ???postal rule???. A main example of this postal rule was in the case of Henthorn v Fraser in 1892 in this case Henthorn sent a contract to sell some land to Fraser this shows that Henthorn was committed and therefore legally binding. Once Fraser received the contract he agreed and sent an acceptance to Henthorn, later Henthorn decided not to deal. This was then decided that Henthorn backed down after the acceptance was posted therefore was still legally binding to Frasers contract.
In the modern age there has been an increase of personal couriers which prove to provide better service than the official postal service within the UK. Courts have found it hard to apply the postal rule to couriers but have made the decision to allow the postal rule to still apply but the offer is accepted the second they hand over the document to the courier. The recent technology advancements the postal rule may need to be reviewed because of the nature of the new ways of communicating such as fax and telephone. The disadvantage of using post is that the postal service is not always reliable and the contract might be damaged such as a fire seen in the case of household fire and carriage accident insurance V grant where the contract was lost all together. In conclusion within the modern day world it is difficult to still see the postal rule as a valid contract rule because there are so many technology advances which improve the quality of communication. The postal rule is an old fashioned rule which was appropriate at the time of its creation where communication was hard and the postal service was the only way of communicating. In the modern world this rule will need to be reviewed because external factors may jeopardise the contract agreement which may be delays in postal and fires or even the contract being lost completely. The postal rule only delays the contract by waiting for the acceptance from the offeree but it also gives the offeror time to reconsider and back down from the contract making it void.BibliographyBeatson, J. (2002). Anson??™s Law of Contract. 28th? Edition. Oxford Press
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