Contracts are a part of modern daily life - whether its the documents you sign to buy a house or car, your insurance policy, or even just the agreements that underlie an everyday retail transaction, contracts are involved. Unfortunately, sometimes a handshake doesn't mean what it used to mean and even when the parties have signed clear written agreements, disputes often arise. When you or your business need help drafting, negotiating, interpreting, or litigating a contract, a lawyer may become necessary to protect your rights and help you understand your obligations.
Contract Law involves the determination of when certain promises are enforceable and the rights and obligations of the parties to a contract. The basic elements of a contract that are required to establish that a binding contract exists include the following:
- An offer - First, it must be shown that a specified offer was made by one or more parties. For example, when the seller of a vehicle says that he will sell his car to you for $10,000, an offer has been made.
- Acceptance - Next, to show an enforceable contract, acceptance must be demonstrated. For example, if, in response to the sellers offer, you agree to pay the same $10,000 in exchange for the vehicle, you have accepted the offer. Note that if you instead reply that you will pay $9,900 for the vehicle you have not accepted the offer but have extended a counteroffer. This usually also means that you have declined the prior offer and the seller does not have to honor that offer any longer.
- Consideration - Finally, to show the existence of a valid and binding contract, consideration must be shown. Consideration is the benefit that each party to the contract will receive as a result of the completed contract. In our example above, the seller of the vehicle will receive your money (consideration) and you will receive a new vehicle (consideration).
Of course, the law is often complicated and many other factors may play into whether a contract will be deemed to be enforceable. Among other things, contracts must typically be formed by competent parties (adults) who give their voluntary assent to being a party to the agreement. In some situations, contracts must be written to be enforceable.
Most states, including Arizona, have also enacted the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) which provides some unique protections to consumers.
Breach of Contract
One reason to sue over a contract is when one party commits a breach of contract - i.e, stops doing, or fails to do, what the contract states should be done. Defenses that may excuse a breach of contract include duress, fraud and misrepresentation, mistake, lack of consideration and the statute of frauds
Most of the cases handled by Harper Law either start with or somehow involve one or more contracts. Many people don't realize how many contracts they enter into on a daily basis, and how the basic - and sometimes not so basic - principles of contract law govern the disputes they may be involved in. If you are an employer, employee, landlord, tenant, real estate buyer or seller, own a business, have a policy of insurance, or even just shop at a store, you are a party to a contract. Those contracts grant you certain rights and also subject you to certain obligations.
The truth is that regardless of who you are, contract law probably affects your daily life. Because of that influence, contract law disputes are virtually unavoidable. Sometimes those disputes can't be resolved without the help of an attorney.
Experience In Contract Litigation
Contract litigation is a significant part of Harper Law's practice. Because of our experience handling contract litigation we are also uniquely positioned to help advise our clients with contract formation and negotiation. Attention to the details at the time of contract formation can be vital to the enforceability of the contract later on.
Although it might be nice if what a contract says (or what you think it says) is how it will be treated by an Arizona court, that is not always the case. Sometimes, a contract or portion of a contract may be found to be illegal and/or unenforceable for a variety of reasons.
TALK TO A LAWYER
Whether you are about to enter into a contract, are concerned that you or someone else is breaching a contract, or are embroiled in lititgation, Harper Law is prepared to help you. We encourage you to schedule a consultation with an experienced Arizona contract law attorney to discuss your legal questions.
If you're ready to schedule an appointment with an Arizona contract lawyer give us a call at 602-256-6400, or submit your inquiry online and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.