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Legally Binding Contracts

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 13 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Legally Binding Contracts

Although it is usually the wisest option, legally binding contracts do not just apply to contracts set out in writing. Under the eyes of the law verbal contracts are just as legally binding as written contracts. A contract is basically an agreement between two parties, for example, one party supplies a service and the other pays for it. Regardless of whether this contract is set down in writing or verbally it is still a binding contract under law.

Formation of a Contract

There are two basic rules to the formation of a legal contract; offer and acceptance. One party makes an offer or agreement to provide a service and the other party accepts the offer. By setting out the terms and conditions of offer and acceptance a legally binding contract has been made. If the contract is broken, or breached, then the law can used to enforce the contract.

Consideration and Intention

Consideration and intention are two other factors that make up a legally binding contract. Consideration is usually the exchange of something, such as wages for work with an employment contract. Intention is where both parties make a contract with the intention of that contract to be legally binding. These terms are used more in common law and may not hold any weight if a dispute reaches the law courts. If a dispute does reach the law courts then a judge will be looking closely at the terms and conditions of the contract in practice.

Legally Binding Contracts

Many people are unaware of the various ways that legally binding contracts can be set down. By far the best way of making a contract is for both parties to sit down and draft up a contract in writing with all the terms and conditions laid out. In today’s world there are many different forms of communication options, and emails, faxes, and telephone call agreements for exchange of services are all considered legally binding contracts. As long as an offer and acceptance is made or implied then any breach of contract can be legally disputed.

Unfair Terms of Contract

Although the contracts described above are legally binding, it does not mean that there is absolutely no way out of a legally binding contract. The terms and conditions set out in a contract are of paramount importance when disputes reach the legal courts. Where consumers are concerned, unfair contract terms and a lack of good faith on behalf of the trader may mean that the contract is not legally binding.

The basic rule as to what constitutes an unfair contract term is that there is a significant imbalance in the terms towards one of the parties’ rights and obligations. This imbalance will usually be detrimental to the consumer, and the trader will usually have shown a lack of good faith and will not have acted openly or fairly towards the consumer.

Types of Legally Binding Contracts

Many of us are unaware that we enter into legally binding contracts every day. The simple act of purchasing food from a shop is a legally binding contract between shop owner and consumer. Having dental work undertaken is a legally binding contract, a simple agreement to have someone cut the grass in your garden for some form of payment is a legally binding contract. Disputes usually occur when one person decides not to honour one or more of the terms of the agreement. There are certain contracts that under the law do need to be set out in writing; these will include contracts such as the sale of property, shares, and intellectual property rights.

Certainty of a Contract

If a contract issue does reach the law courts then there must be a certainty of contract. This means that for the contract to be legally binding it cannot be vague or ambiguous. The terms and conditions must have been clearly set out in fact and not just in principle. A judge may look at unclear terms and then try and clarify them but this will be dependant on the individual case appearing before the court.

Legally binding contracts are used by people every day. There are laws set out regarding legally binding contracts in order to protect both parties involved in the contract. Legal disputes can be long and costly, and breaching a contract is a serious matter that should never be taken lightly.

One interesting question is 'does a text message create a legally binding contract?'. Richard Brittle of Brittle Motors based in Stoke-on-Trent believes that it does. Over the coming weeks our leading in-house barrister will report on her findings which should make for interesting reading.

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[Add a Comment]
@EO - you are trying to claim on a fragile technicality, I don't think you have much in the way of rights in this instance. They'll just say the cut-off point was midnight.
Robb - 14-Jun-18 @ 10:37 AM
Hello, I am self-employed, and have just had a contract job terminated. A clause in the contract states that it can be terminated in the first week for no reason, but although no clause in the contract states the standard working hours, it was terminated after the end of the working week as defined by a member of staff on company letterhead - “your standard working hours are 9am to 6pm“, and notice was served at 18:31. After the first week, I am entitled to a month’s notice period. Does an e-mail on company letterhead hold the same weight as a contractual clause? I feel that this does.
EO - 13-Jun-18 @ 12:15 PM
Tori - Your Question:
Hi. I am 17. My parents are divorced and I have little contact with my father. He was asked by my mother in text message if he would contribute half of cost if my driving lessons. He declined but replied he would give me £240 towards cost which would be my birthday and christmas money. He now refuses to give me anything. Is it legally binding as it was all in text.

Our Response:
It is not legally binding, your father is entitled to change his mind.
ContractsAndAgreements - 18-May-18 @ 2:21 PM
Hi. I am 17. My parents are divorced and I have little contact with my father. He was asked by my mother in text message if he would contribute half of cost if my driving lessons. He declined but replied he would give me £240 towards cost which would be my birthday and christmas money. He now refuses to give me anything. Is it legally binding as it was all in text.
Tori - 17-May-18 @ 3:20 PM
Rose - Your Question:
Hi there, I started a freelance job 5 months ago. I now doubt that what they said about how much I will earn, is humanly possible because I only make £5 per hour instead of the £10 which they said one can earn per hour. This is the email I received:"Please note, the role is paid on a per task basis, at a rate of £0.05 per complaint plus £0.15 per email. Dependent on individual work pace these values generally equate to approximately £10 per hour, with the ability to increase over time. If you are happy to progress on this basis, please let me know your availability to come into our offices for an initial chat."I have a contract but it doesn't mention anything about salaries. My question is, are they are allowed to tell me a possible hourly wage without it actually being possible to achieve? Many thanks for your help.

Our Response:
Workers paid per task they perform or piece of work they do (known as piece work) are classed as doing ‘output work’. They must be paid either at least the minimum wage for every hour worked or on the basis of a ‘fair rate’ for each task or piece of work they do. Please see gov.uk link here.
ContractsAndAgreements - 27-Apr-18 @ 12:40 PM
Hi there, I started a freelance job 5 months ago. I now doubt that what they said about how much I will earn, is humanly possible because I only make £5 per hour instead of the £10 which they said one can earn per hour. This is the email I received: "Please note, the role is paid on a per task basis, at a rate of £0.05 per complaint plus £0.15 per email. Dependent on individual work pace these values generally equate to approximately £10 per hour, with the ability to increase over time. If you are happy to progress on this basis, please let me know your availability to come into our offices for an initial chat." I have a contract but it doesn't mention anything about salaries. My question is, are they are allowed to tell me a possible hourly wage without it actually being possible to achieve? Many thanks for your help.
Rose - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:21 PM
Gazza - Your Question:
After a longer-than-normal negotiation to let a house that was concurrently listed for rent and for sale, the owner of the property we were pursuing sent us a text message: "Hi, could not get hold of Hamptons towards end of day, but we are in agreement to move forwards I believe, have instructed house to come off market asap. Many thanks." The following day the letting agent followed up with paperwork and a request for a holding deposit, which we paid immediately. Based upon that chain of events, we started buying basic furnishings that were scheduled to be delivered starting one day after the agreed upon date to begin our tenancy. Two days prior to the start of the rental term, we were sent the lease to be executed electronically. But before all parties had signed signed it, the agent informed us that the owner had actually not withdrawn the property from the market as promised and had since agreed to sell it to another party. Do we have any redress to either (a) enforce the owner's promise to let to us or (b) receive compensatory damages beyond the return of our holding deposit?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, there is little you can do with regards to this matter unless the lease was signed and exchanged. These are UK laws. However, if you live elsewhere in the world the laws may be different. In which case, as we are a UK-based site you may wish to seek further advice.
ContractsAndAgreements - 10-Apr-18 @ 12:35 PM
After a longer-than-normal negotiation to let a house that was concurrently listed for rent and for sale, the owner of the property we were pursuing sent us a text message: "Hi, could not get hold of Hamptons towards end of day, but we are in agreement to move forwards i believe, have instructed house to come off market asap. Many thanks." The following day the letting agent followed up with paperwork and a request for a holding deposit, which we paid immediately. Based upon that chain of events, we started buying basic furnishings that were scheduled to be delivered starting one day after the agreed upon date to begin our tenancy. Two days prior to the start of the rental term, we were sent the lease to be executed electronically. But before all parties had signed signed it, the agent informed us that the owner had actually not withdrawn the property from the market as promised and had since agreed to sell it to another party. Do we have any redress to either (a) enforce the owner's promise to let to us or (b) receive compensatory damages beyond the return of our holding deposit?
Gazza - 9-Apr-18 @ 10:43 PM
I am looking into leasing my music to other musicians, would a contract be able to be enforced if it was created on a computer or mobile device, I feel a direct debit would be the most comfortable way to ensure I am payed, but as they have control over when payments are cancelled, I cannot ensure I will be payed the agreed amount before payments are cancelled, I’m not the most experienced with financing and contracts, so thanks in advance for any advice.
Dec - 8-Apr-18 @ 11:23 PM
Tania- Your Question:
Hi I work as a credit controller we have a customer who owes £6k+ they had an agreement whereby they pay £500 a month will take over a year to clear the debt. Can we terminate the agreement and threaten legal proceedings? Thanks

Our Response:
Much depends whether you have anything in writing and what those agreement terms are. If you have, then you would have to have good reason for taking the matter to court i.e they have defaulted on payments/the agreement.
ContractsAndAgreements - 6-Apr-18 @ 11:42 AM
Hi I work as a credit controller we have a customer who owes £6k+ they had an agreement whereby they pay £500 a month will take over a year to clear the debt. Can we terminate the agreement and threaten legal proceedings? Thanks
Tania - 5-Apr-18 @ 6:54 PM
Rillwood - Your Question:
Not sure if this is the right place to post but here goes anyway.I’m in a lot of debt and need a car to get my autistic child to and from school safely, he has zero sense of danger, he gets middle rate dla and lower Rate mobility,I have zero chance of getting finance and I can’t afford to buy a car out right.My mother in law has offered to sell me her car and I can pay her monthly for it, she said we will get a solicitor to draw up a contract that states she owns the car until I have paid off the full amount,What I want to know is if a baliff could seize the car whist I’m paying her for it as I technically won’t own it whilst I’m paying instalments.I don’t want to agree to buy it and then have debt collectors take her car and her be left out of pocket, I’ll be paying for tax and insurance but the log book will stay in her name.I have a couple of ccjs that I haven’t paid which I think will be enforced soon, I’m not to bothered by that as I own nothing and only earn £400 a month but I just don’t want them to take her car.Thanks

Our Response:
In this case, it would be more advisable to ask your local authority to see whether your son is entitled to free transport to and from school. From what you say, the agreement with your mother-in-law sounds tenuous and you would have to see whether the logistic work in order for a solicitor to draw up such an agreement (which will also cost money). It's probably advisable to also get in touch with National Debtline who can work out your options to deal with your debts and current situation, please see link here.
ContractsAndAgreements - 27-Mar-18 @ 11:45 AM
Not sure if this is the right place to post but here goes anyway. I’m in a lot of debt and need a car to get my autistic child to and from school safely, he has zero sense of danger, he gets middle rate dla and lower Rate mobility, I have zero chance of getting finance and I can’t afford to buy a car out right. My mother in law has offered to sell me her car and I can pay her monthly for it, she said we will get a solicitor to draw up a contract that states she owns the car until I have paid off the full amount, What I want to know is if a baliff could seize the car whist I’m paying her for it as I technically won’t own it whilst I’m paying instalments. I don’t want to agree to buy it and then have debt collectors take her car and her be left out of pocket, I’ll be paying for tax and insurance but the log book will stay in her name. I have a couple of ccjsthat I haven’t paid which I think will be enforced soon, I’m not to bothered by that as I own nothing and only earn £400 a month but I just don’t want them to take her car. Thanks
Rillwood - 26-Mar-18 @ 5:11 PM
Hi, we signed a 3 year contract for a service to do with our phone system.Within the small print is says 'unless the contract is terminated by the client giving the company 42 days notice as intended termination the contract shall continue after the expiration of the initial minimum term for an additional period of time equivalent to the initial minimum term'. At the end of that extended term the contract should continue for an additional term and so on and so forth.This means to us after the first 3 years it rolled onto another 3; and it has now rolled onto another 3 making 9 years in total.We now want to cancel this contract but the supplier is saying we would have to pay 2 years that is left even though we have signed nothing since the initial contract in 2011?Is this enforceable to charge us 2 years cancellation?
Donna - 20-Mar-18 @ 1:05 PM
Hi, I booked a holiday through a well known site and paid a deposit, at the same time my friend booked the cottage next door. I then got a promotion at work which doesn’t entitle me to any holidays in the month I had booked the holiday. I have spent days now emailing the company that are trying to charge me a bigger deposit for a holiday that is 9 months away! I haven’t signed anything but because my friend isn’t cancelling they are saying they are now liable for the deposit! Please help, do I have to pay the larger amount? They keep saying it says it on the website but we didn’t use the website we rang an this was never explained to us (they also said they lost the recording of that call) thanks
Narelle - 3-Feb-18 @ 10:38 PM
Hi, I would greatly welcome some advice and help from the group. I entered into an agreement with a Ltd company to work self employed for X wage and X commission package. They paid for my training course which they agreed to do and I carried out work for them happily for 2 years. During the 2 years, I was paid weekly (often late by 1-5 weeks at times). During the early stages, a draft contract ("draft contract" was written in the email exchanges between us) was bounced backward and forward several times but my amendments were never agreed by the Ltd company and the terms of the contract was never agreed by me. We discussed these post start date but again, nothing was formalised. I have since left this company but now am going through the Employment Tribunal to resolve. Where do I stand with the Ltd Company? Is either party bound by the draft contract?
Arnold - 28-Jan-18 @ 12:04 AM
thank you for your reply. I signed a bond(slavery bond) which was in relation to clause 24. clause 24 was attached to contract. but on last page of CONTRACT it states : Acceptance of this offer I hereby accept the offer of employment on the terms and conditions as set out in 1 - 23. with myself and company rep signing? is a contract agreed with terms agreed a legally binding contract to the terms agreed?
jkbella - 26-Jan-18 @ 3:35 PM
Jkbella - Your Question:
Looking for general advice and support from group members. I am writing in regards to a company making a claim against me for training costs. We both signed a contract agreeing to terms and condition set out from 1 -23.They are raising a clause from 24.Can they legally go against a contractual agreement and force a clause that was not agreed by them and myself? The driver training bond is in relation to clause 24 which was not agreed in contractAnd help and advice would be great full God bless you all

Our Response:
Did you sign and agree to the clause 24/did this form part of your contract? If you didn't, then you may wish to give ACAS a call in order to explore your options.
ContractsAndAgreements - 23-Jan-18 @ 2:03 PM
Looking for general advice and support from group members. I am writing in regards to a company making a claim against me for training costs. We both signed a contract agreeing to terms and condition set out from 1 -23. They are raising a clause from 24. Can they legally go against a contractual agreement and force a clause that was not agreed by them and myself? The driver training bond is in relation to clause 24 which was not agreed in contract And help and advice would be great full God bless you all
Jkbella - 22-Jan-18 @ 8:35 PM
I entered a lease contract l asked my solicitor about terms and conditions l have found out despite of my solicitor assurances there are terms that I don't agree with. Do l need to obeyed by terms of the contract despite that l was assured by my solicitor in writing that was not the case.
Abe - 21-Jan-18 @ 7:47 AM
Bryan - Your Question:
It said I can see my kids on these days and weekends and nothing else

Our Response:
Unless an agreement has been awarded through a court, then it is not legally binding and either party can renege on such an agreement. However, you can use it as evidence in court of how your ex is obstructing access.
ContractsAndAgreements - 12-Dec-17 @ 12:25 PM
It said i can see my kids on these days and weekends and nothing else
Bryan - 11-Dec-17 @ 8:59 PM
3 years ago i caught a felony assualt and misdemeoder assult .family violence... They were bogus charges from the ex and we got back together and she filed affidavit of non prosecution and they are now dropped... My question is we broke up 2 months ago and she wrote up a agreement on the days i can get my kids and we both signed it...so now last weel she tell me i cant see them till court... So is the agreement binding till then?
Bryan - 11-Dec-17 @ 8:57 PM
A legally binding contract can easily be entered into by the parties concerned signing a recognized standard form of contract?
Yamin - 2-Dec-17 @ 11:21 AM
My husband made an agreement that she would pay her money each month on what was owed him from his mom’s death. She agreed on an email that the balance would be paid off in Sept 2016. This was not stated on the promissory note so she says that she can just continue to pay each month. Is this right?
Nik - 16-Nov-17 @ 12:27 AM
Peng - Your Question:
I live in university accommodation (a room in a shared flat) due to a short-term switch in universities I agreed to a contract for a certain amount of weeks (45). But now I need to leave a few weeks earlier than expected. Can I get out of the contract if I hand in my notice 4 months before I need to leave and if not can I sublease my room?

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your tenancy agreement which will tell you what you can and cannot do with regards to subletting and/or leaving before your contract end. As you signed the agreement, you are bound by it.
ContractsAndAgreements - 7-Nov-17 @ 11:45 AM
I live in university accommodation (a room in a shared flat) due to a short-term switch in universities I agreed to a contract for a certain amount of weeks (45). But now I need to leave a few weeks earlier than expected. Can I get out of the contract if I hand in my notice 4 months before I need to leave and if not can I sublease my room?
Peng - 6-Nov-17 @ 3:23 PM
Bec - Your Question:
I have worked as a cleaner for 6 yrs on a wkend 6hrs total and I work the bar every weds eve 4.5hrs (same place) I dnt hav a written contact only a verbal. Can they just get rid of me for no reason? I need help and advice of what to do as I hav heard on grapevine this is going to happen.

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether you are employed or self-employed. If you are employed and working PAYE and your employer is paying tax and NI through HMRC, then you do have rights. Even if you only have a verbal contract, by the very nature of you being employed to do the work it means a contract is in place. You can see more via gov.uk link here . If you are still unsure regarding your rights, you can give ACAS a call who will advise you further. If you are being made redundant please see the link here which will explain your rights.
ContractsAndAgreements - 6-Nov-17 @ 9:37 AM
I have worked as a cleaner for 6 yrs on a wkend 6hrs total and i work the bar every weds eve 4.5hrs (same place) i dnt hav a written contact only a verbal. Can they just get rid of me for no reason? I need help and advice of what to do as i hav heard on grapevine this is going to happen.
Bec - 5-Nov-17 @ 12:02 AM
I signed a legally binding employment contract. I never looked at the conditions as it was an amended and new contract when I changed my work hours. When I wanted to hand in my notice I looked at the contract properly to see how much notice I would need to give. On further inspection of the contract I noticed that my salary had increased in my favour. Will this salary be upheld. Thanks
Shaz - 16-Oct-17 @ 6:54 PM
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