According to Black’s Law Dictionary 8th Edition, a contract is a promise or a set of promises, for breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty. In layman terms, a contract is an agreement usually between two or more persons, for the performance of a specific act, it creates rights and obligations among the parties of the contract, and where breached will be enforceable by a court of Law.
TYPES OF CONTRACTS
There are several types of contract, which may take the form of any contract prevalent in Nigeria today such as Joint Venture Contract, Employment contract, Properties Contract, Mortgages contract etc. Some of these contracts are itemized below:
A unilateral contract, is where one party makes an offer or promise to another party if he does something in return. The other party to perform the act or duty is usually unknown at the time of making the contract and there is no agreement necessarily between both parties However, an offer is made and if the other unknown party accepts the offer and performs, an enforceable contract exists. A Bilateral contract on the other hand is one made between two known parties. Most contracts are bilateral in nature because it involves two known parties who consent to the basic terms of the contract.
An executory contract is one where both parties still have outstanding obligations. Here there are continuing duties on the part of both parties. An executed contract on the other hand is where both parties have fulfilled their obligations.
A void contract is not legally binding. It is one that cannot be enforceable by the parties in a court of law. It is equivalent to not having a contract at all. In contrast, a voidable contract is legally binding and fully enforceable in a court of law.
An express contract is one that has all the terms of the agreement. Each party knows its rights and obligations before agreeing to them. The terms of the contract can either be written or verbal. An implied contract is where the terms of the agreement are implied and not expressly stated, the terms are inferred based on actions, circumstances, or facts that indicate intent to form a contract. Although implied contracts are legally enforceable, they may however be voided were not certain for both parties.
ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF A VALID CONTRACT
There are five basic essential elements a contract must contain for it to be seen as valid. In EMEKA S. ENEMCHUKWU V CHIMAROKE OKOYE & ANOR (2018) LPELR-40027 (CA), HELEN MORONKEJI OGUNWUMIJU, J.C.A. stated that “There are five ingredients that must be present in a valid contract. They are offer, acceptance, consideration, intention to create a legal relationship and capacity to contract. All these five ingredients are essential, and a valid contract cannot be formed if any of them is absent”. the same position was also held in WENDE V GOVERNOR OF BENUE STATE & ORS (2019) LPELR-489 (CA).Hence the need for every contract to have these basicelements for it to be valid cannot be over emphasized;
An offer is an invitation to enter into a binding contract communicated by one party called the Offeror to another party called the Offeree, which contains terms sufficiently definite to create an enforceable contract if the other party accepts the invitation or offer. An offer can be specific or general, and must be differentiated from an invitation to treat, which is not an offer but an invitation to treat to the general public and not to a particular party, for them to make an offer to the party issuing the invitation to treat. An offer can either be accepted, rejected or renegotiated, where it is renegotiated the initial offer by the Offeror is terminated and a counter offer is been made by the party negotiating.
Acceptance simply means agreeing to the action of another, by some act that binds the person in law. Itrefers to the unconditional agreement to the terms of an offer. For an acceptance to be valid, it must be made in the manner requested by the offering party. It may be oral or written, depending on the nature of the contract.
In contract law, consideration refers to the act of exchanging something of value. It is the price paid in exchange for fulfilling the promise or offer. For a contract to be valid, the parties must exchange something of value. In most cases, it involves the exchange of money for goods or services. However, consideration can also be the exchange of rights, responsibilities, and promises and not necessarily monetary. In a unilateral contract, the performance by one party is considered enough consideration. Consideration is always seen by the courts to be adequate and not sufficient. Also, past consideration, an existing duty, and a promise of gift do not count as consideration for an offer.
Capacity to contract simply means the competence or legal ability of a person to validly enter into a contract under the existing legal framework.Someone’s capacity is determined by whether or not they have reached the age of majority and if they are mentally capable of understanding the applicable contract terms, consequences, and obligations that comes with signing a contract. Generally, it is assumed that once one is of majority he or she can contract but there is a limit to that assumption as the law exempts certain sets of people from getting into contracts to protect them partly because they may not understand it, or they may be easily coerced or duped into unfair situations. These group of personsinclude;
However, the general principle is that a contract made by a minor with an adult is binding on the adult but not on the minor, but if after attaining majority, he ratifies it, he will be bound. By
SECTION 3 OF THE SALE OF GOODS ACT 1979 a minor is bound by the contract where necessaries are sold and delivered to a minor, such necessaries include; food, clothing lodging, education or training in a trade and essential services.
The intention to create legal relations is the intention to enter a legally binding agreement or contract. It is one of the necessary elements in theformation of a contract. It is because; intention to create legal relations consists of the readiness of a party to accept the legal sequences of having entered into an agreement. Where the intention to create legal relation is lacking in a contract, it will not be enforceable and will be seem as a mere promise that lacks binding effect.
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Anita Onyekachi Ikande