What is Contracts Law?
The concept of a contract dates back to ancient times. However, the modern rules regarding the formation and interpretation of contract is largely derived from the common law legal system. A contract is an agreement between two or more people having a lawful objective to do some thing or purchase some product in exchange for a corresponding exchange of value.
The elements of a contract are:
Offer and Acceptance (often called a meeting of the minds)
Consideration (the value exchanged between the parties)
and Mutuality of Obligation (one cannot be required to give substantially more than the other)
Some also consider capacity, or the legal competence to enter into a contract, an element of its formation.
Contracts usually have two primary forms of recovery: damages, or the money equivalent to the value the party would have received from the contract had there been no breach, and specific performance, or the requirement that the party must carry out its obligations under the agreement.
Both of these remedies award the non-breaching party with the lost benefit of the bargain or the expectation damages.
In some instances, even when one of the elements of contract formation are absent, the law requires the creation of a fictional agreement, called a quasi-contract. Unjust enrichment keeps one from receiving the benefit of a product without paying for it, even if they did not formally contract for it. Quantum meruit is a similar concept but usually pertains to the provision of services.
For more information about contract law, you can review the materials found below or you can find an attorney in your jurisdiction by visiting the Law Firms page on our website.
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Contract Law - US
- ABA - Section of Public Contract Law
The mission of the Section of Public Contract Law is to improve public procurement and grant law at the federal, state and local levels and promote the professional development of attorney and associate members in public procurement law. The Section pursues this mission through a structured committee system and educational and training programs that welcome and encourage member involvement, foster opportunities for all members of the Section, and that recognize and respond flexibly to the diverse needs, talents and interests of Section members.
- Contract Disputes Act of 1978
The Contract Disputes Act of 1978 ("CDA", P.L. 95-563, 92 Stat. 2383) governs legal claims brought by parties engaged to do business with the government of the United States. It came into force on 1 March 1979, superseding the provisions of the Tucker Act. Among other things, it establishes procedures by which said parties may seek to press a monetary claim against the government, and it establishes the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals for review of certain, but not all, of these claims. More recent amendments have clarified the ability of contractors to bring non-monetary claims, and have endorsed the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for resolving disputes.[
- Contract Law - Definition
United States contract law covers obligations established by agreement (express or implied) between private parties. Generally, contract law in transactions involving the sale of goods has become highly standardized nationwide as a result of the widespread adoption of the Uniform Commercial Code. However, there is still significant diversity in the interpretation of other kinds of contracts, depending upon the extent to which a given state has codified its common law of contracts or adopted portions of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts.
- Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)
The Federal Acquisition Regulations System is established for the codification and publication of uniform policies and procedures for acquisition by all executive agencies. The Federal Acquisition Regulations System consists of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which is the primary document, and agency acquisition regulations that implement or supplement the FAR. The FAR System does not include internal agency guidance of the type described in 1.301(a)(2).
- Freedom of Contract - Definition
Freedom of contract is the freedom of individuals and corporations to form contracts without government restrictions. This is opposed to government restrictions such as minimum wage, competition law, or price fixing. The freedom to contract is the underpinning of laissez-faire economics and is a cornerstone of free market libertarianism.
- Government Bids, Government RFPs, and Government Contracts
Government bids, also called RFPs and contracts, are opportunities to business with governments within the United States. Federal, state, and local governments post bids for business opportunities. We compile these government bids, RFPs, and contracts so you can easily search government bids. Our Free Government Bid Email service send you a custom report of government bids that match your criteria. Our team of researchers spend their days searching so you can concentrate on your business.
- Law of Electronic Contracts in the United States
The growth of electronic commerce has proportionally increased the use of electronic contracts as a faster and innovative way to carry out business. Between 1998 and 2002 most countries adapted their domestic commercial legislation to recognize electronic contracts and signatures as legally valid instruments.
- Privity of Contract - Overview
"The doctrine of privity means that a contract cannot, as a general rule, confer rights or impose obligations arising under it on any person except the parties to it." (GH Treitel, The Law of Contract)
- Restatement of the Law Second, Contracts
The Restatement (Second) of the Law of Contracts is one of the most well-recognized and frequently-cited legal treatises in all of American jurisprudence. Every first year law student in every ABA-accredited law school in the United States is exposed to it, and it is probably the most-cited non-binding authority in all of U.S. common law in the areas of contracts and commercial transactions. It is a work without peer in terms of overall influence and recognition among the bar and bench, with the possible exception of the Restatement of Torts. The second edition was begun in 1962 and completed by the American Law Institute in 1979.
- Uniform Commercial Code
The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC or the Code), first published in 1952, is one of a number of uniform acts that have been promulgated in conjunction with efforts to harmonize the law of sales and other commercial transactions in all 50 states within the United States of America.
- United States Code - Public Contracts
In the codification of laws by this Act, the intent is to conform to the understood policy, intent, and purpose of Congress in the original enactments, with such amendments and corrections as will remove ambiguities, contradictions, and other imperfections, in accordance with section 205(c)(1) of House Resolution No. 988, 93d Congress, as enacted into law by Public Law 93-554 (2 U.S.C. 285b(1)).
- Unites States Department of Commerce
The U.S. Department of Commerce has a broad mandate to advance economic growth and jobs and opportunities for the American people. It has cross cutting responsibilities in the areas of trade, technology, entrepreneurship, economic development, environmental stewardship and statistical research and analysis.
- USDOC - Contracts and Certifications
The federal government bought goods and services totaling more than $350 billion during fiscal year 2009. Selling to the Federal Government can increase your business opportunities and revenues. You can drastically benefit from these "set aside" contracts. There are several government agencies at the local, state or federal level which offer certification. This section provides information on the principles of contracting including federal procurement, new opportunities and applying for the proper certifications
Contract Law - International
- International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM)
The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management is a non-profit membership organization that provides a global forum for innovation and collaboration in trading relationships and practices. It offers unique insights to the purpose and contribution of the contracting and relationship management process in both public and private sector.
- United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)
Adopted by a diplomatic conference on 11 April 1980, the Convention establishes a comprehensive code of legal rules governing the formation of contracts for the international sale of goods, the obligations of the buyer and seller, remedies for breach of contract and other aspects of the contract. The Convention entered into force on 1 January 1988.
Oraganizations Related to Contract Law
- Civilian Board of Contract Appeals
The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals was established by section 847 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 to hear and decide contract disputes between government contractors and executive agencies under the provisions of the Contract Disputes Act of 1978, 41 U.S.C. §§ 601-613, and regulations and rules issued under that statute.
- US General Services Administration
GSA’s mission is to use expertise to provide innovative solutions for our customers in support of their missions and by so doing foster an effective, sustainable, and transparent government for the American people.
Publications Related to Contract Law
- Contract Prof Blog
Provides articles, news and information on Contract Laws.
- Federal Contracting Basic
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the primary regulation for use by all Federal Executive agencies in their acquisition of supplies and services with appropriated funds. It became effective on April 1, 1984, and is issued within applicable laws under the joint authorities of the Administrator of General Services, the Secretary of Defense, and the Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, under the broad policy guidelines of the Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget.
Articles on HG.org Related to Contract Law
- Four Tips on Negotiating Startup Office LeasesReady to move your startup out of the garage and into real office space? Here are some tips on negotiating your startup office lease.
- Reviewing Residential Construction ContractsThere are many high-quality contractors in Central Florida that do an outstanding job, building beautiful homes. They try to get their projects finished on schedule and within their client’s stated budget, as they know that their hard-earned reputations are on the line.
- Rules Change for Construction ArbitrationThe American Arbitration Association offers new rules to reduce fees and speed the decision making process for the arbitration of construction claims between $75K and $5M.
- I Left My Job and Now I Can't Make a Living - Non-Competes and EmployeesMany employees have to sign "non-compete" agreements, often as a clause in initial hiring paperwork. Such clauses can throw a wrench in the hunt for new employment, and can cause you to be terminated from your new job. Here's what you need to know.
- Georgia Court of Appeals Denies Grading Contractors' ClaimsA grading subcontractor was not paid for putting in the roads in a new subdivision; after the construction lender foreclosed upon the project developer, the subcontractor sought payment from the bank. After the trial court awarded the subcontractor its full claim plus attorneys fees, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed. Some very important lessons for subcontractors and lien claimants are made clear in the ruling.
- Eight Common Affirmative Defenses for Breach of Contract LawsuitsBreach of contract lawsuits are common in the business world, but they can also be complicated. To win a breach of contract suit, you must present affirmative defenses to justify your actions and explain why you did or did not break the contract in question for an acceptable reason.
- 8 Simple Changes To Improve Your Construction ContractsIn today's cut-and-paste world, even leading contract attorneys make mistakes. If you want to make your contracts easier to read and promote a problem-free project, then consider implementing some of the changes which we have suggested here.
- Don't Make a Mistake--Read Your ContractLast week, the Georgia Court of Appeals rendered a decision which is detrimental to subcontractor who do not thoroughly read and understand their construction contracts. The contract included a provision which made the individual signing the contract on behalf of the subcontract company personally liable for the contract's performance. The court permitted this provision to be enforced against the signatory.
- Love Hurts, and so Can ConfidentialityWhen you agree to say nothing to anyone, say nothing. To anyone.
- Goose Bumps, Conundrums and My Happy Place - Words MatterIf you own a business, do business with a business, enter into contracts as a business or for a business, or if your livelihood now and for the foreseeable future depends upon what that thing you’re signing actually says, words matter.
- All Business and Industry Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Business and Industry including: agency and distributorship, agency law, business and industry, business formation, business law, commercial law, contracts, corporate governance, corporate law, e-commerce, food and beverages law, franchising, industrial and manufacturing, joint ventures, legal economics, marketing law, mergers and acquisitions, offshore services, privatization law, retail, shareholders rights and utilities.