Was A Jury Used In Stock-Purchase Agreement Lawsuit For Facebook Wisconsin Contract Law – What Makes a Legally Binding Contract?

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Wisconsin Contract Law – What Makes a Legally Binding Contract?

As a business owner, you likely enter into contractual relationships every day. Many of you deal with written contracts on a fairly regular basis. However, do you understand the basic concepts of contract law and what makes a contract legally binding? Do you know what to look for when reviewing contracts prepared by another party or your own attorney that make that contract legally binding?

Under Wisconsin contract law, legally binding contracts, whether oral or written, require three basic components: offer, acceptance, and consideration. An “offer” requires one party to offer to give something of value to another party, which is then “accepted” by the other party. “Consideration” is what both parties are obligated to exchange with each other as part of a contract. The consideration must be something of value, and the consideration must be mutual, ie. both parties must provide something of value under the contract. For example, an agreement whereby a party agrees to pay you $1,000.00 without receiving anything in return is not a contract by definition.

Generally, payment takes the form of money paid in exchange for the provision of goods or services. This is true for multimillion-dollar transactions between international conglomerates, as well as when you take your car to a mechanic for repairs. One corporation agrees to pay millions of dollars to another corporation to develop a special software or other product, and you pay your mechanic to replace the spark plugs. Either way, there is an offer, an acceptance, and a consideration, and thus a contract that is legally valid and binding. However, be aware that legally binding contracts may require payment other than money, such as when two parties agree to exchange lots of real estate.

Under Wisconsin contract law, all contracts also contain implied duties of “good faith and honesty” on the part of both parties to the contract. Although this is a rather broad phrase, it essentially means that once an agreement is reached, both parties are required to make reasonable efforts to fulfill their obligations and to avoid actions that may interfere with the performance of the contract. .

The parties to the contracts have the right to enforce them in the courts. Generally, remedies for breach of contract take one of two forms: specific performance or monetary damages. Specific performance is the equitable remedy most commonly awarded in real estate transactions and consists of a court ordering the breaching party to perform its obligations, ie. “specifically perform” the contract.

In most cases, the remedy for breach of contract is monetary compensation, usually in the form of “consequential” damages. Consequential damages are those damages that naturally arise from a breach of contract by one party and may include the cost of replacing a product that was never delivered, the cost of repairing a defective product, and any resulting lost profits. However, consequential damages must be “reasonably foreseeable” at the time of the contract to be recoverable.

With some exceptions, oral contracts can be just as valid and legally binding as written contracts. As an attorney, I recommend that whenever possible, contractual obligations are set out in a written document signed by both parties. Generally, courts must look only to the written contract itself to interpret the parties’ obligations, unless there is an ambiguity in the contract. In the absence of a written agreement or in the presence of ambiguity in the written contract, the court may look to extrinsic evidence, including the testimony of the parties, to determine their intent. In other words, the judge or jury will determine the parties’ fates, not the parties themselves. Therefore, written contracts that clearly define the obligations of the parties are almost always preferable to verbal ones.

I conclude with a suggestion. Never ignore the “template” language you often see at the end of contracts. ​​​​​​While these clauses may seem like an afterthought added by solicitors to extend the contract, they are often vitally important, specifying, among other things, where written notices (such as to terminate the contract) must be sent under with the contract, where the action must be brought and the laws of which jurisdiction will govern the contract. While it is important to read the detailed provisions of the contract, it can be equally important to understand the “standard” provisions at the end of the contract.

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