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CONTRACT--A CLOSER LOOK

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The word contract scares many. It makes some uneasy and others just ignore there is such an animal! Why is this so? There are many reasons. Among them are:

1) Contracts are too complicated,
2) Contracts are too costly to draft, and
3) Contracts are too costly to enforce.

In other situations contracting parties fail to draw up a written agreement. Their reasons also vary:

1) Contracts are too complicated,
2) Contracts are too costly to draft,
3) Contracts are too difficult and costly to enforce,
4) The persons involved "trust" each other and see no need for a written instrument, and
5) They fail to foresee or understand the benefit of "getting it in writing."

Often, the agreement is that "we will work things out as time rolls along." Actually, "agreeing to agree" amounts to "agreeing to nothing!" The fact is, more often than not, things change with time. Examples:

1) Memories become blurred as to what exactly each parties' responsibilities were,
2) Intentions and verbal communications are misinterpreted,
3) The negotiating power of the parties often, if not always, changes with time,
4) Costs are miscalculated and/or misrepresented,
5) Unanticipated competition in the marketplace arises, e.g., new competitors emerge, technological breakthroughs of existing competitors, etc.,
6) A party is unable to deliver part or all of agreed contribution(s),
7) Uncontrollable circumstances or events change or terminate the ability to continue specified activities, and/or
8) The contractee's spouse has an affair with his trustworthy partner.

The consequences are obvious-monetary losses, unwanted lawsuits, terminated friendships, stress, etc..

In still other instances people sign contracts and have little or no understanding of what or why they signed! Worse, they do not foresee the possible ramifications of their signing. It may be shrugged off as "just another form," or "just some of the necessary red tape."

Although alien and disturbing to many-let's face it, contracts are a fact of business life. The best approach then, to minimize the negative aspects here-to-for mentioned, is to grasp at least a functional understanding of contracts, i.e., one must familiarize himself to the extent that he will become "functionally contract literate." What is that? That means he will be able to tell if he is the "duper" or the "dupee!"

In this discussion about contracts the objectives will be to:

1) Eliminate some of the mystique and fear often associated with contracts,
2) Enable a more functional understanding of contracts,
3) Enable a better communication and agreement between the contracting parties,
4) Enable better communication between laymen and lawyers,
5) Reduce stress, broken friendships, and lawsuits,
6) Enable the businessperson to feel confident and protected in his business activities, and the bottom line,
7) Make a business more cost effective.

See Cross-links: DEFAULT, DAMAGES, REMEDY, RESTITUTION, SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE, INSTRUMENT, LEASE, CONTRACT-CLUB CONTRACT, CONTRACT-BUYER/VENDOR CONTRACT, CONTRACT-SONGWRITER/PUBLISHER CONTRACT, CONTRACT-RECORDING CONTRACT, CONTRACT under "Valid Contract," "Voidable Contract," "Void Contract," "Contract Fraud," and "Breach of Contract."

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Contract Basics

A contract is an agreement between two or more entities to do or not to do a certain thing. An entity is a person or corporation. Contracts may exist between two or more people, corporations, or combinations of the two. Technically, the agreement (promise or set of promises) must create…

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