Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Contract Law

Main issues

  • Generally, contracts can be made in any form and can be proved by any means. Commercial parties generally reduce their contract to written form but for practical convenience, not legal compulsion.
  • However, law does insist upon requirements of form for exceptional cases.
  • Only example in English Law as a formal requirement which is sufficient in itself to render a promise binding is a promise that is made in a deed. Promises are rendered enforceable by making use of a deed.
  • Other principle forms which are additional and necessary for making contracts binding are:
  • Contract must be made in writing, or
  • Must be evidenced in writing, or
  • Must be made by deed.


  • Gen. perception that people are not bound by a contract until they sign, however this perception wrong as oral contract gen. just as binding as a written one.
  • Though gen. advantageous to have agreement in writing to minimise dispute. To achieve certainty, particularly for valuable contracts, these should take written form.
  • Contracts usually legally binding despite lack of written evidence – though certain exceptions made.
  • E.g. of exception – some contracts void unless made in writing.
  • Certain transactions must be made in form of a deed and signed before witnesses.
  • There are rules which invalidate certain contracts if specified formalities are ignored. These rules are regarded as exceptional – gen. principle is that no formalities required & parties free to decide own form of contract.
  • People may agreement made in writing expressed to a formal contract being prepared, it means what it says provided it is written using sufficiently clear words to the effect.
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  • Formal requirements were a feature of English contract law until 2nd half of 20th C. This statute gradually fell into disregard as it came to be used by people who wished to get out of their agreements on the “technical” ground that the agreement didn’t comply with the agreed formalities, so was not enforceable.
  • This retraction is consistent with the modern trend which, with the notable exception of a deed, is to place less emphasis on formal requirements in the law of contract.
  • “A contract need not be concluded or evidenced in writing nor is it subject ...

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