Florida Contract Law Defined
A contract is nothing more than the exchange of mutual promises by two or more parties. The basic elements of a contract are an offer, an acceptance of the offer, and consideration for the offer. Consideration is a benefit or detriment that a party receives for making or accepting an offer. The most common form of consideration is the payment of money.
Contracts between individuals or businesses need not always be in writing. However, a written contract is by far the best approach to take to protect your interests. It is far easier to prove the terms of your contract when it is in writing . Further certain contracts will not be enforced and will be barred by the statute of frauds if the contract is not reduced to writing. A contract must set forth essential terms and conditions such as who is bound to perform, what is being provided, when performance is required, where performance is to occur, and how much is paid for the goods or services. Advanced topics can include terms and conditions concerning insurance requirements, indemnification, or disclaimers of liability for certain claims.
As all promises can be broken so to can all contracts be breached. Contracts can be breached, intentionally or not, by either party. Sometimes through no fault of their own, performance under a contract is not possible either because of unplanned events or delays. A breach of contract can occur when either party fails to provide the agreed goods or services, fails to timely provide the agreed goods or services, or fails to timely pay for the agreed goods or services. The key to a good contract is to set forth the remedies and procedures in the event of a breach. Issues to consider are whether the parties will agree to liquidated damages, will attorney's fees and costs be recoverable, the choice of law to preside over any legal case, and the manner of how the dispute will be resolved be it arbitration or a court of law.
While ignorance may be bliss, not knowing what your contract provides or failing to read the contract is not a defense in a court of law. As such, you are encouraged to have your contract reviewed by a lawyer before you sign the contract. That way, a Florida contract lawyer can advise you of your rights and duties under the contract and may make suggestions for any modifications before it is executed. Seeking the help of a Florida contract lawyer after the fact is rarely helpful as the ability of the lawyer to assist you is greatly limited since any change to the document will now require the other side to agree.
The same type of due diligence is required for those times when you need to draft a new contract. While drafting the terms of your agreement on a napkin may be better than nothing, it is hardly the best option. If you need to count on the terms of your agreement for your future, it is well worth your investment and peace of mind to have the agreement drafted by a lawyer. There could be nothing worse than wrongfully relying upon your own improperly drafted contract to realize in the end that it cannot be enforced. As a general rule, if the new business or agreement is worth your time and consideration, it is also worth your investment in having the agreement properly documented in a contract form as well.
Florida Contract Law Resources
Helpful legal resources for Florida Contract Law include Florida Contract Law Research which contains several articles on general contract law principles and Florida Contract Law Statutes which contains several links to Florida laws that are relevant to contracts and contractual relationships.