A contract is any legally-enforceable promise or set of promises made by one party to another and, as such, reflects the policies represented by freedom of contract. In the civil law, contracts are considered to be part of the general law of obligations.

Validity of contracts

Void, voidable and unenforceable contracts

Bilateral v. unilateral contracts

Express and implied contracts


Basic common law contract law addresses four sets of issues:

1. When and how is a contract formed?

2. When may a party escape obligations of a contract (such as a contract formed under duress or because of a misrepresentation)?

3. What is the meaning and effect to be given to the terms of a contract?

4. What is the remedy to be given for breach of a contract?

Contract formation: Generally, formation of a contract requires a bargain in which there is a manifestation of mutual assent to the exchange and a consideration (see also consideration under English law).

Escape from contract: A party may in some cases escape obligations established by a contract for one of the following reasons:

* Mutual or unilateral mistake as to a basic assumption upon which the contract was made

* Misrepresentation of facts inducing one of the parties to enter the contract

* Duress inducing one of the parties to enter the contract

* Lack of capacity to contract (such as infancy, influence of drugs, alcohol or mental illness)

* Unconscionability

* Violation of a public policy

* Absence of a writing evidencing formation of the contract if the Statute of Frauds requires such a writing

* Performance of the contract becomes impossible or extremely difficult or costly by virtue of events occurring after the contract is formed

* The principal purpose of the contract is substantially frustrated by virtue of events occurring after the contract is formed

In some situations, a collateral contract may exist.

Meaning and effect of contract terms: Many contract disputes involve a disagreement between the parties about what terms in the contract require each party to do or refrain from doing. Hence, many rules of contract law pertain to interpretation of terms of a contract that are vague or ambiguous. The parole evidence rule limits what things can be taken into account when trying to interpret a contract.

Privity: In general, only parties to a contract may sue for the breach of a contract.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Contract"