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I Thought I Had Made a Contract to Have Some Work Carried Out But Now I am Not So Sure. Was There Ever a Contract?

Aug 22, 2016
What most people do not realise is that in English Law a contract does not have to be in writing. However, there do need to be three key components present to at least create a contract and then enforce the agreement as a contract. If you think about it, verbal contracts are made all the time. For example, the window cleaner coming to your door and asking if you want your windows cleaned for a fixed price – that is an offer and unlikely to be in writing. 

The first ingredient is an ‘offer’. There needs to be an offer by one person to the other for the provision of services of goods. Quite simply, if someone does not have anything on offer to sell, there can be no contract. 

Acceptance of the offer is the second requirement. Without this, again, the contract cannot exist as the other person did not intend to create a contract to buy or purchase services. 

The third component is consideration. This is essentially each person or entity is getting one thing from the other, in exchange for something else. Using the example of the window cleaner, the window cleaner is getting paid, and you will be getting clean windows. The important thing to remember is that consideration does not always have to a cash sum, but it must be of good value and cannot be from in the past. You can even have consideration of £1 being a nominal amount, but it must be for something. It is possible to have a contract without consideration, but this is something different, and is dealt with by signing a document as a deed, which is a separate type of legally binding document. 

Sometimes the line can be blurred about whether a contract exists, and on what terms and conditions. If you are not sure as to what the contract is that exists, speak to one of our Business Law team here at Nockolds who can help you. 

For more information or to find out how we can help you, please contact a member of our Business Law Team on 01279 755777.

Nicola Lucas

About the author

Nicola Lucas

Nicola is a member of our Business Law Team handling all the commercial requirements of her clients such as shareholder agreements and negotiating on commercial ...

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