Contracts are the backbone of our society. They represent promises made and provide recourse to promises broken. People place a lot of value on contracts and rightfully so. However, with the advancement of the Internet and so-called do-it-yourself legal services, any document with the term “Contract” emblazoned on top has taken on some talismanic powers that may be undeserved.
As convenient as these ubiquitous template agreements may be, problems arise when individuals seek to enforce those agreements, only to find that the contracts are not valid. Having a knowledgeable contracts lawyer on your side can help avoid this issue, particularly when it comes to business contracts.
Granted, running to your lawyer anytime you want to draft a simple contract, perhaps for the sale of a car, may not be the best use of your time. We get that. So for those times when the contract is relatively simple and the stakes are relatively low, we will talk about what the required elements of a contract are, for it to be considered “valid” in South Carolina.
Basic Elements of A Valid Contract in South Carolina
Every contract has certain, essential elements that need to be present to be considered valid in a court of law. At the heart of every contract is a promise between two or more persons to do or not do a particular act.
These promises are bound by both parties by what’s called “sufficient consideration.” In the normal parlance of our times, or for the sake of simplicity, we can call it “money.” A simple contractual promise, backed by sufficient consideration could be: I promise to purchase your 1974 Ford Mustang for $5000.
Offer & Acceptance
Contracts must also consist of a clear offer and acceptance. If an offer is made, but has not been accepted, there can be no contract.
Contracts must be entered into by two adults of sound mind. This doesn’t just mean that you must be free from mental incapacity, it also means that if you enter into a contract while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be deemed incapacitated and the contract may be void.
Contracts must also be entered into freely. If you are signing your name to a contract with a gun to your head, that contract is said to be entered into under duress and may be deemed invalid. While the terms of the duress may not be so dramatic, other signs of duress may be financial or emotional coercion.
To Write or Not to Write
While contracts can be either oral or written, the law requires that certain contracts be written in order to be enforceable. Contracts for the sale of real property, for example, must be in writing. Oral arguments can be valid, but they are also rather difficult to enforce.
If you’ve got contract questions in South Carolina, talk to the experienced business attorneys at Willcox, Buyck & Williams. Solid legal advice awaits you in Florence at (843) 536-8050 or Myrtle Beach at (843) 461-3020.