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How to Write a Contract

Many legal forms are contracts between two or more parties, and if you are adapting an existing template it is very useful to understand the key elements that are required in a contract to ensure it protects your legal rights. Our book How to Use Legal Forms covers the structure:

  • The Front of a Contract
  • Table of Contents & Index of Defined Terms
  • Body of the Contract
  • Back of the Contract

How to Use Legal Forms dissects contract style legal forms as an example of how all legal forms are constructed. We selected contracts as the example since contract legal forms are those most likely to require thorough revision to make them meet the needs of the parties signing up to them. For example, join ventures, acquisitions etc. are likely to have unique circumstances and conditions, which need to be reflected in unique contract terms. How to write a contract is not something that can be quickly summarized, but is a skill that attorneys take years to perfect.

A contract is made up of a front, body and back, with the front of a typical contract made up of five elements: the title, table of contents, defined terms, the introductory clause, and recitals. In this article we are going to briefly discuss some of the elements which make up the front of a contract. For a more detailed analysis of this and the other parts of a contract please refer to How to Use Legal Forms.

Title
The title plainly states, with no redundant language, the type of contract that is being signed, such as, “Promissory Note” or “Lease Agreement.” It does not include the names of the parties or any descriptive language beyond that required to define the type of contract.

Introductory Clause

The introductory clause repeats the type of contract as described in the title, the date of signing, and the parties involved.

If the date is in the introductory clause then the signatories need not date their signatures. An alternative to having the date in the Introductory Clause is to have the signatories date their signatures

The recommended date format is MONTH,DAY,YEAR. For precision the month should be written, and the day and year recorded numerically.

The parties to the contract should be written in full, whether individuals or companies, and capitalized for clarity. A description of the parties to the contract should be included, i.e. if it is a company its state of incorporation should be included, and its parent company if there is one.

Recitals
Recitals take the form of a few short paragraphs presenting the background to the contract. They can be used in a number of ways, including notes of any contracts being entered into simultaneously and explanation of the events leading up to the contract signing.

Contracts Summarized
A contract is a legal agreement which binds parties to certain terms. The safety net that it provides is that it is enforceable in a court of law, but the whole point of a contract is to avoid ever having to go to court. The courts are just there to provide a remedy in the event that one or more of the parties breaches its terms.

Contracts are agreed once there is mirror image acceptance i.e. once the parties accept one another’s terms without qualification. For contracts to be binding they must be practically possible to be execute, and not illegal.

The law governing contracts is underpinned by the principle “pacta sunt servanda” which basically means that agreement are to be kept. It is part of a general law of obligations, and is joined under this classification by tort law and unjust enrichment.

Although contracts can simply be oral agreements they are usually documented for practical purposes, as the written document can be provided as evidence of the contract.

At the heart of a contract is the concept of offer and acceptance, which is basically the situation where one party makes an offer that the other party accepts. In legal parlance this is referred to as ‘concurrence of wills.’ For a contract to be legitimate it must evidence, or have supporting evidence, that all parties assented to engage in the contract. This test is on the basis of whether in the eyes of a reasonable person the parties gave the impression of accepting the terms, regardless of whether they actually did so.

Clearly how to write a contract is a skill that involves detailed legal knowledge.

Further Information
For further information we recommend that you purchase How to Use Legal Forms. To buy now just click here. The courts are clogged with people who entered into agreements that don’t afford them the protection they thought they did at the time. Some of the most common mistakes are people using outdated forms that don’t take account of new laws that have been passed, and the inclusion of terms that are unenforceable under the jurisdiction that governs the agreement. The book How to Use Legal Forms helps you avoid these pitfalls.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the email mini course, which delivers more information on legal forms direct to your mailbox. Just enter your name and email into the contact form at the top right of this page.

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