You probably already know that in business, it’s imperative to have your business attorney review every important document. Never sign any agreement or contract unless you understand exactly what you are signing and agreeing to.

If you’re in business here in the State of Georgia, you have probably signed a large number of business contracts. As Atlanta contract disputes attorneys, we know that a number of business disputes could be avoided by deleting, clarifying, or adding language to a weak or invalid contract.

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO MAKE CONTRACTS LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE?

For a contract to be legally valid in the State of Georgia, it must contain all five of the following elements:

1. Consideration: There must be a “quid pro quo” in the contract to make it valid. In other words, both parties must be giving something, and both must be receiving something. The exchange can involve money, goods, services, rights, guarantees, or any combination of these.

For example, a contract to purchase a used car for cash would qualify since both parties are offering consideration. So would a contract for a mechanic to begin work on a car for the promise of payment upon completion.

2. Mutual Assent: Both parties must understand and agree to the terms of the contract. To have a contract voided in the future, it is not sufficient for one party to claim later that he or she did not understand the terms of the contract at the time it was signed.

If the contract clearly states the terms, and if both parties agree at the time that the contract is entered, it should stand up as legally valid in the State of Georgia.

3. Offer and Acceptance: A contract must include an offer to do something or deliver something and an acceptance of that offer.

4. Legal Purpose: All of the terms of the contract must be legal for it to be valid and enforceable in Georgia or federal courts. For example, you cannot make a contract for the purchase of contraband items or materials (such as cocaine or uranium, for example).

5. Ability to Contract: Neither party to a contract can be a minor or a person who has been declared mentally incompetent.

WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED FOR A CONTRACT TO BE LEGAL?

Although the five requirements for a contract may seem like fairly basic guidelines, the actual content of the contracts themselves can be far more complicated.

A simple contract to lease office space in Atlanta, for example, may have dozens of terms and conditions that protect the legal rights of both the landlord and the tenant: term of the lease, amount of payment, conditions for eviction, et cetera.

In addition to what the two parties to a contract want and agree upon, the contract also must comply with all federal, state, and local laws and ordinances.

HOW CAN A BUSINESS ATTORNEY HELP?

It’s always advisable to have a Georgia business attorney review your contracts and answer your questions before you sign them. In addition, your Georgia business attorney should prepare any standard forms that your company may plan on using to contract with customers.

Your business contracts are too important to rely on weak and unreliable language. Speak with one of our contract attorneys today to discuss your contract drafting needs by calling (470) 336-5562.