Contract Basics and Disputes

Contract Basics and Disputes

A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. A contract is formed when three conditions are met:

  • An offer by one party
  • An acceptance by the second party
  • Consideration that is exchanged between the two parties.

Consideration can be money for goods or services or services for services. The consideration should  be stipulated in the contract and agreed upon by both parties.

Can Contracts be Verbal?

In Illinois, contracts can be verbal or written down. However, the best option is to have a written contract. Without a written contract, it could cause potential problems if the legal route is taken to acquire compensation for damages. In court, verbal contracts can become tricky to present as enforceable and valid because “For an oral contract to be valid and enforceable, its terms must be definite and consistent. When it appears that the language used or the terms proposed are understood differently by parties, there is no meeting of the minds and no contract exists.” Martin v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 348 Ill.App.3d 846, 855, 283 Ill.Dec. 497, 808 N.E.2d 47 (2004).

Always Have a Signed Contract.

In addition to having a written contract, always have the signed contract. With a signed contract, the other party cannot claim that they did not know what the contract said, because they signed and agreed to the stipulations. Also, a signed contract holds more weight as evidence compared to a verbal contract. With a verbal contract, it can become a “he said, she said” situation. Therefore, verbal contracts can be hard to litigate in court without clear and concise evidence of what the contract entailed.

Be Specific.

A well written contract is always specific.  If the contract is not specific, the gray areas could be open to interpretation. The person involved in the contract could claim that he or she did not know about a stipulation of the contract simply because the contract was not specific. Even a judge can interpret a contract if it does not have specific stipulations or limitations, which may result in a court decision not in your favor. Specifics include the names of those involved in the contract, compensation for fulfilling the contract by both parties, and how long the contract will last for if applicable among other items. Every minor detail in a contract is important. In Illinois law, “When terms are unambiguous, a court must apply the language as written, given its plain, ordinary, and popular meaning.” Thompson v. Gordon, 241 Ill.2d 428, 441, 349 Ill.Dec. 936, 948 N.E.2d 39 (2011).

If you need help in contract disputes, local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough civil litigation help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

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