A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties that’s enforceable by law. However, not all contracts are created equal. In fact, some contracts aren’t even valid.
Contract laws can vary from state to state. A contract that is valid in California may not be enforceable in Florida. A form contract downloaded from an online source, although properly formatted and full of legal terminology, may not adhere to the contract law requirements in the state in which you operate your business. As a businessperson, it is imperative that the contracts you’re relying on to protect your business are doing just that, and not leaving your company vulnerable.
Under Florida law, a contract must have three (3) essential components to be considered valid and enforceable. Those components are: an offer, acceptance of offer, and consideration. Let’s take a moment to discuss each must-have component below:
Component #1: An offer
The first required component of a contract is the offer. An offer is a written or verbal statement of either party indicating their intention to act upon acceptance. An offer can be renegotiated, withdrawn or rejected at any time prior to acceptance. However, once the offer has been accepted and the contract signed, your company’s considered a party to the contract and will be obligated to perform or not perform as agreed.
Component #2: Acceptance of the offer
The second required component of any Florida contract is acceptance of the offer. Once an offer has been presented, all parties to the contract must fully and openly accept the offer. An offer can be accepted in writing, verbally over the phone, or via the U.S. mail. In the latter, the offer is deemed accepted from the moment the mail is placed inside of the mailbox; not from the time the recipient receives the mail.
Oftentimes, in response to an offer, a party will suggest revisions or attempt to change the conditions of the original offer. In these instances, the original offer is considered rejected, and the revisions and/or new conditions are deemed counter-offers.
Component #3: Consideration
The third must-have component of a contract is consideration. Consideration describes the value that will be given to the parties of the contract in exchange for their performance. There are various forms of consideration including, but not limited to, money, services, and tangible items. Without consideration, the performances promised in your contract are merely gifts. In order to satisfy the validity threshold, your Florida business contract must evidence some form of consideration on behalf of all parties involved.
As a business owner, you’re probably no stranger to contracts. Regardless of the nature of your business, doing business with an ironclad business contract can prove to be essential to your company’s success. With the decline of the U.S. economy and rise in the number of breach of contract claims, now is the time to reevaluate the contracts you’re using to protect your business.