Often I am asked, what is a good contract? Here are a few thoughts you should consider before signing a contract or offering a contract to another party for signature.
Every good contract must address:
- Who are the parties?
- Who will be held responsible to perform in the agreement?
- What is being contracted for? (the sale of goods, purchase of real estate, etc.)
- What does each person have to do?
- In what order will they perform? The more specificity the better as the contract is the roadmap for the deal.
- What happens if one or both parties fail to perform as described?
- Who pays attorneys’ fees and costs, if either party has to sue over the contract?
- Where can litigation be filed?
Of course this is not an exhaustive list but it is a good start.
Any person can write a contract or go to an office supply store or online and create a contract from a basic template. However these courses of action cause problems when you attempt to enforce the contract.
When you ask yourself, “why do I need a contract?”, the answer is to make the other party to the contract perform as they agreed to perform. After all if both sides do what they say they will do, the contract is never an issue. A template, cookie-cutter contract will seldom address the breakdown of a broken contractual agreement.
You can probably anticipate that I, a lawyer, am going to recommend you have a lawyer draw up or at least review with you any contract you intend to enter where the issue at hand is worth more than five hundred or a thousand dollars. With contracts, as with many things in life, you get what you pay for. A few hundred dollars invested on the front end will protect your interests and you will become a better educated legal consumer.
We enter into a hundreds of contracts during our adult lives. Investing in learning about contracts and making sure the most valuable of those contracts are written in your best interest is a wise move. Be wary of any person who offers you a contract but does not want to give you a few days to have an attorney look over the document.
If you would like for my assistance with writing a contract or reviewing a contract that you have been offered please contact me. I look forward to serving you and I hope this short document has helped you better understand the basics of contracts.
If you would like to learn more about contracts and contract law I recommend Jay Feinman’s book, Law 101, specifically Chapter 6 on Contracts.
James E. Schroeder is an attorney at Long, Marmero & Associates with offices in Woodbury, Egg Harbor City and Medford.