Essay Lawbook

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The Law Handbook
Your Practical Guide to the Law in New South Wales

11th edition


Author Carolyn Penfold, UNSW, Sydney

The information contained in this document is as up-to-date and as accurate as possible at time of publication in August 2009.

340 The Law Handbook A consumer is a person who acquires goods or services for personal or household use. We are all consumers. Most consumer dealings, whatever their size, cost or importance, are based on a contract. The basic principles of contract law are discussed in this chapter. These apply to purely commercial transactions (such as between a manufacturing business and its supplier), as well as transactions where one of the parties is a consumer.

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12 Contracts 341

Essentials of a valid contract
A contract is a legal binding agreement – that is, the law will enforce it. For a contract to be valid (and thus enforceable), a number of requirements must be satisfied: • There must be a concluded agreement between the parties; this usually involves the acceptance of an offer. • The parties must have the intention that their agreement be legally binding. • Some benefit (consideration) must be given by each party in exchange for the other party’s promise to do, or not do, whatever the agreement requires. • The terms of the agreement must be certain, so that it is possible to work out what the parties intended their words to mean. • The parties must have the legal capacity to enter into the contract. • Some types of contracts must meet certain formal requirements; for example, a contract for the sale of land must be in writing. • Each party’s consent to the agreement must be genuine. The contract’s validity may be affected by one or more factors that the courts regard as vitiating (removing any real consent between the parties). • The person seeking to enforce the contract must be a party to it (there must be privity of contract between them). • To the extent that the objects or purposes of the contract are contrary to law, the court will not enforce it (legality of contract). These elements are