Dictionary of Law

contract :: legal definition

Contract - 1) n. an agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit known as consideration. Since the law of contracts is at the heart of most business dealings, it is one of the three or four most significant areas of legal concern and can involve variations on circumstances and complexities. The existence of a contract requires finding the following factual elements: a) an offer; b) an acceptance of that offer which results in a meeting of the minds; c) a promise to perform; d) a valuable consideration (which can be a promise or payment in some form); e) a time or event when performance must be made (meet commitments); f) terms and conditions for performance, including fulfilling promises; g) performance, if the contract is "unilateral". A unilateral contract is one in which there is a promise to pay or give other consideration in return for actual performance. (I will pay you $500 to fix my car by Thursday; the performance is fixing the car by that date.) A bilateral contract is one in which a promise is exchanged for a promise. (I promise to fix your car by Thursday and you promise to pay $500 on Thursday.) Contracts can be either written or oral, but oral contracts are more difficult to prove and in most jurisdictions the time to sue on the contract is shorter (such as two years for oral compared to four years for written). In some cases a contract can consist of several documents, such as a series of letters, orders, offers and counteroffers. There are a variety of types of contracts: "conditional" on an event occurring; "joint and several," in which several parties make a joint promise to perform, but each is responsible; "implied," in which the courts will determine there is a contract based on the circumstances. Parties can contract to supply all of another's requirements, buy all the products made, or enter into an option to renew a contract. The variations are almost limitless. Contracts for illegal purposes are not enforceable at law. 2) v. to enter into an agreement.

See also: adhesion contract bilateral contract consideration oral contract unilateral contract and Related Law Terms ↓

Related Law Terms

abstract of judgment :: n. a written summary of a judgment which states ho ... aying the debt. See also: levy lien
acceptance :: n. 1) receiving something from another with the in ... ered into. See also: contract offer
adoption :: n. the taking of a child into one's family, creati ... the child are met. See also: adopt
agent :: n. a person who is authorized to act for another ( ... issues. See also: agency authority
amend :: v. to alter or change by adding, subtracting, or s ... mended pleading statute stipulation
anticipatory breach :: n. when a party to a contract repudiates (reneges ... perform. See also: breach contract
appeal :: 1) v. to ask a higher court to reverse the decisio ... ng, as in "he has filed an appeal."
attachment :: n. the seizing of money or property prior to getti ... bond. See also: writ of attachment
attorney's fee :: n. the payment for legal services. It can take sev ... ees in the particular type of case.
back-to-back life sentences :: n. slang for consecutive life terms imposed by a j ... ther 25 years for a parole hearing.
bankruptcy :: n. a federal system of statutes and courts which p ... y proceedings trustee in bankruptcy
bankruptcy proceedings :: n. the bankruptcy procedure is: a) filing a petiti ... ankruptcy court claim in bankruptcy
bar examination :: n. the examination given in each state by either t ... n that district. See also: attorney
bargain :: n. 1) a mutual agreement or contract between two p ... o: agreement consideration contract
bid :: n. an offer to purchase with a specific price stat ... getting the job. See also: contract
bigamy :: n. the condition of having two wives or two husban ... d to several husbands is polyandry.
bilateral contract :: n. an agreement in which the parties exchange prom ... also: contract unilateral contract
bond :: n. 1) written evidence of debt issued by a company ... good up to the amount of the bond.
breach :: 1) n. literally, a break. A breach may be a failur ... breach of trust breach of warranty
breach of contract :: n. failing to perform any term of a contract, writ ... breach breach specific performance
child custody :: n. a court's determination of which parent, relati ... pport custody divorce joint custody
commercial frustration :: n. an unforeseen uncontrollable event which occurs ... rustration of purpose impossibility
complaint :: n. the first document filed with the court (actual ... g prayer service of process summons
condition precedent :: n. 1) in a contract, an event which must take plac ... o the property. See also: condition
condition subsequent :: n. 1) in a contract, a happening which terminates ... Dad Fauntleroy. See also: condition
consideration :: n. 1) payment or money. 2) a vital element in the ... t of a promise). See also: contract
contribution :: n. 1) donation to a charity or political campaign. ... f $3,000 from each of his partners.
copyright :: 1) n. the exclusive right of the author or creator ... plagiarism public domain trademark
corporation :: n. an organization formed with state governmental ... ation public corporation securities
covenant :: 1) n. a promise in a written contract or a deed of ... o compete deed restrictive covenant
criminal calendar :: n. the list of criminal cases to be called in cour ... e plea preliminary hearing sentence
cross-complaint :: n. after a complaint has been filed against a defe ... g prayer service of process summons
cumulative sentence :: n. when a criminal defendant has been found guilty ... in a five-year term in the example.
damages :: n. the amount of money which a plaintiff (the pers ... liquidated damages special damages
declaratory judgment :: n. a judgment of a court which determines the righ ... ys it. See also: declaratory relief
deed :: 1) n. the written document which transfers title ( ... veyance deed of trust warranty deed
divorce :: 1) n. the termination of a marriage by legal actio ... y separate property spousal support
eminent domain :: n. the power of a governmental entity (federal, st ... ngs. See also: condemn condemnation
execute :: v. 1) to finish, complete or perform as required, ... ishment contract executed execution
failure of consideration :: n. not delivering goods or services when promised ... n. See also: consideration contract
felony :: n. 1) a crime sufficiently serious to be punishabl ... ion. See also: misdemeanor sentence
fictitious defendants :: n. when a party suing (plaintiff) is not sure if h ... are not permitted in federal cases.
firm offer :: n. in contract law, an offer (usually in writing) ... ptance contract counter offer offer
garnish :: v. to obtain a court order directing a party holdi ... ed. See also: garnishee garnishment
general partner :: n. 1) usually one of the owners and operators of a ... ted partnership partner partnership
grace period :: n. a time stated in a contract in which a late pay ... the contract, i.e. your insurance.
guarantee :: 1) v. to pledge or agree to be responsible for ano ... as some defect. See also: guarantor
hearsay rule :: n. the basic rule that testimony or documents whic ... interest dying declaration hearsay
implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing :: n. a general assumption of the law of contracts, t ... -long employment. See also: implied
impute :: v. 1) to attach to a person responsibility (and th ... also. See also: vicarious liability
in kind :: adj. referring to payment, distribution or substit ... . See also: distribution trust will
in propria persona :: adj. from Latin "for one's self," acting on one's ... client and an ass for an attorney."
independent contractor :: n. a person or business which performs services fo ... ue independence. See also: employee
insanity :: n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a p ... M'Naughten rule temporary insanity
insolvency :: n. 1) the condition of having more debts (liabilit ... the property. See also: bankruptcy
installment contract :: n. an agreement in which payments of money, delive ... n contract failure of consideration
insurance :: n. a contract (insurance policy) in which the insu ... t clause Workers' Compensation Acts
interrogatories :: n. a set of written questions to a party to a laws ... ing. See also: deposition discovery
intervene :: v. to obtain the court's permission to enter into ... ntion joinder multiplicity of suits
joint and several :: adj. referring to a debt or a judgment for neglige ... ution contributory negligence joint
joint custody :: n. in divorce actions, a decision by the court (of ... em. See also: child custody divorce
joint enterprise :: n. a generic term for an activity of two or more p ... liability joint venture partnership
joint tortfeasors :: n. two or more persons whose negligence in a singl ... : comparative negligence negligence
jury :: n. one of the remarkable innovations of the Englis ... hallenge sequester venire voir dire
labor and materials :: (time and materials) n. what some builders or repa ... track of actual labor hours worked.
last clear chance :: n. a rule of law in determining responsibility for ... contributory negligence negligence
law :: n. 1) any system of regulations to govern the cond ... um maritime law natural law statute
leasehold :: n. the real estate which is the subject of a lease ... sehold. See also: condominium lease
liability :: n. one of the most significant words in the field ... bility joint tortfeasors negligence
libel :: 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), wr ... libel per se public figure slander
limited liability :: n. the maximum amount a person participating in a ... ted damages partnership shareholder
limited partnership :: n. a special type of partnership which is very com ... mited liability partner partnership
liquidated damages :: n. an amount of money agreed upon by both parties ... airness. See also: contract damages
mail box rule :: n. in contract law, making a written offer or acce ... nse in hand when the time runs out.
malpractice :: n. An act or continuing conduct of a professional ... eed. See also: errors and omissions
maxims :: n. a collection of legal truisms which are used as ... e and the ordinary habits of life."
meet and confer :: n. a requirement of courts that before certain typ ... s which are freighted with emotion.
meeting of the minds :: n. when two parties to an agreement (contract) bot ... eant his cattle. See also: contract
mistake :: n. 1) an error in comprehending facts, meaning of ... time. See also: contract rescission
motion for a summary judgment :: n. a written request for a judgment in the moving ... strict procedures. See also: motion
negligence :: n. failure to exercise the care toward others whic ... gence per se res ipsa loquitur tort
no fault insurance :: n: a type of automobile insurance required of car ... ling lawsuits. See also: negligence
not guilty :: n. 1) plea of a person who claims not to have comm ... t guilty by reason of insanity plea
not guilty by reason of insanity :: n. plea in court of a person charged with a crime ... fense not guilty temporary insanity
novation :: n. agreement of parties to a contract to substitut ... . See also: accord and satisfaction
omission :: n. 1) failure to perform an act agreed to, where t ... of contract negligence reformation
option :: n. a right to purchase property or require another ... ng or upon expiration of the lease.
oral contract :: n. an agreement made with spoken words and either ... itten. See also: agreement contract
out of court :: adj. referring to actions, including negotiations ... is dismissed. See also: settlement
paid into court :: adj. referring to money deposited with the clerk o ... differences. See also: interpleader
palimony :: n. a substitute for alimony in cases in which the ... the relationship. See also: alimony
partnership :: n. a business enterprise entered into for profit w ... partnership partner silent partner
party :: n. 1) one of the participants in a lawsuit or othe ... y real party in interest respondent
party of the first part :: n. reference in a written contract to identify one ... ies another party to the agreement.
peremptory challenge :: n. the right of the plaintiff and the defendant in ... challenge for cause jury voir dire
performance :: n. fulfillment of one's obligations required by co ... nce. See also: specific performance
personal services :: n. in contract law, the talents of a person which ... his/her unique ability and product.
probate :: 1) n. the process of proving a will is valid and t ... e also: administrator executor will
promise :: 1) n. a firm agreement to perform an act, refrain ... so: consideration contract covenant
promissory estoppel :: n. a false statement treated as a promise by a cou ... lue of his work. See also: estoppel
prospectus :: n. a detailed statement by a corporation required ... rporation limited partnership stock
qui tam action :: : (kwee tam) n. from Latin for "who as well," a la ... technical violations and/or errors.
reasonable reliance :: n. particularly in contracts, what a prudent perso ... the following:." See also: contract
reasonable time :: n. in contracts, common custom in the business or ... a contract using such a vague term.
repair :: v. to restore to former condition or in some contr ... tching to temporarily halt leaking.
requirements contract :: n. a contract between a supplier (or manufacturer) ... produces. See also: output contract
rescind :: v. to cancel a contract, putting the parties back ... celling party. See also: rescission
rescue doctrine :: n. the rule of law that if a rescuer of a person h ... to the car grill. See also: damages
respondent :: n. 1) the party who is required to answer a petiti ... "appellant") in the appeals court.
review :: n. the judicial consideration of a lower court jud ... ate court reversal reversible error
rule against perpetuities :: n. the legal prohibition against tying up property ... . See also: restraint on alienation
sanction :: n. 1) a financial penalty imposed by a judge on a ... ction." See also: contempt of court
satisfaction of judgment :: n. a document signed by a judgment creditor (the p ... ord. See also: abstract of judgment
sentence :: 1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted o ... ence restitution suspended sentence
severable contract :: n. an agreement which is made up of several separa ... e also: breach of contract contract
several liability :: n. referring to responsibility of one party for th ... n joint and several promissory note
shortening time :: n. an order of the court in response to the motion ... e notice is served within 24 hours.
specific performance :: n. the right of a party to a contract to demand th ... artwork. See also: contract prayer
statute of limitations :: n. a law which sets the maximum period which one c ... ies. See also: demurrer laches toll
substantial performance :: n. in the law of contracts, fulfillment of the obl ... also: contract specific performance
sum certain :: n. a specific amount stated in a contract or negot ... r redecoration of Williams' house."
summary adjudication of issues :: n. a court order ruling that certain factual issue ... is made. See also: summary judgment
summary judgment :: n. a court order ruling that no factual issues rem ... tion summary adjudication of issues
surrebutal :: n. in written or oral legal argument, the response ... h until the judge stops the debate.
term :: n. 1) in contracts or leases, a period of time, su ... nancy" is one term for "occupancy."
third party :: n. a person who is not a party to a contract or a ... beneficiary third-party beneficiary
third-party beneficiary :: n. a person who is not a party to a contract but h ... tract as a third-party beneficiary.
time is of the essence :: n. a phrase often used in contracts which in effec ... g the agreement. See also: contract
timely :: adj. within the time required by statute, court ru ... ed on the 61st day is not "timely."
toll :: v. 1) to delay, suspend or hold off the effect of ... bridge or take passage on a ferry.
trust :: n. an entity created to hold assets for the benefi ... testamentary trust trustee trustor
unconscionable :: adj. referring to a contract or bargain which is s ... ee also: adhesion contract contract
unilateral contract :: n. an agreement to pay in exchange for performance ... consideration contract performance
valuable consideration :: n. a necessary element of a contract, which confer ... t. See also: consideration contract

Popular Law Searches

legal definition ministerial act :: n. an act, particularly of a governmental employee ... exercising any individual judgment.
chancery legal definition :: n. a court that can order acts performed. Today ch ... ts in most states. See also: equity
testamentary disposition legal definition :: n. how the terms of a will divide the testator's ( ... named beneficiaries. See also: will
contract of sufferance :: n. a "hold-over" tenancy after a lease has expired ... y tenancy at will unlawful detainer
forthwith legal definition :: adv. a term found in contracts, court orders and s ... mediacy, with no excuses for delay.
forthwith definition legal :: adv. a term found in contracts, court orders and s ... mediacy, with no excuses for delay.
what is to wit in a legal contract :: prep. that is to say. Example: "the passengers in ... tty Bumgartner and Sherry Younger."
mirror wills legal definition :: n. the wills of a husband and wife which are ident ... d each names the other as executor.
clean hands doctrine latin :: n. a rule of law that a person coming to court wit ... ices. See also: affirmative defense
sine qua non only relates to contract law :: (see-nay kwah nahn) prep. Latin for "without which ... qua non of the injury to Playmate.

Other Law Terms - C

C.I.F. :: n. the total of cost, insurance and freight charge ... aid on goods purchased and shipped.
calendar :: 1) n. the list of cases to be called for trial bef ... clerk of the court calendars cases.
calendar call :: n. the hearing at which a case is set for trial. ... g at which a case is set for trial.
call :: n. the demand by a corporation that a stockholder ... assessment on shares already owned.
calumny :: n. the intentional and generally vicious false acc ... 's reputation. See also: defamation
cancel :: v. to cross out, annul, destroy, void and/or resci ... g, so that it cannot be used again.
cancellation :: cancel ... cancel
caning :: n. a punishment for crimes employed in certain Asi ... last century in the United States.
canon law :: n. laws and regulations over ecclesiastical (churc ... nduct with no religious connection.
cap :: n. slang for maximum, as the most interest that ca ... "adjustable rate" promissory note.
capital :: 1) n. from Latin for caput, meaning "head," the ba ... count capital assets stock in trade
capital account :: n. the record which lists all basic assets of a bu ... or the alleged value of good will.
capital assets :: n. equipment, property, and funds owned by a busin ... . See also: capital capital account
capital expenditure :: n. payment by a business for basic assets such as ... y intended to improve productivity.
capital gains :: n. the difference between the sales price and the ... so: basis delayed exchange exchange
capital investment :: capital expenditure ... capital expenditure
capital offense :: n. any criminal charge which is punishable by the ... . See also: bail capital punishment
capital punishment :: n. execution (death) for a capital offense. The U. ... or death. See also: capital offense
capital stock :: n. the original amount paid by investors into a co ... price. See also: corporation stock
capitalization :: n. 1) the act of counting anticipated earnings and ... for conversion into capital assets.