There are various kinds of contracts. You may not be aware, but you enter in contracts on a daily basis. Whether it is with the security man that opens your gate in exchange for a salary or a fruit seller that sells you a mango, these are contracts. A valid contract consists of several ingredients:
- Intention to create legal relations
- Implied and Express Terms
An offer simply means you have made a proposal to another party to do something. For instance: I would like to buy your bicycle for ₦200.00 (Two hundred naira). This is an example of a simple offer.
An acceptance is an unequivocal agreement to an offer. In order to accept an offer you must agree to all the terms of the offer. For instance: in response to the offer above an acceptance would be ‘Okay, I will sell the bicycle to you for ₦200.00 (Two hundred naira). Once you try to vary the terms such as suggest a higher price for the bicycle, there has been no acceptance what you have made is a counter offer.
This is the price of a promise. It is the valuable substance exchanged for the contract. In the above example the consideration is the two hundred naira. The court does not inquire into the sufficiency of consideration but the consideration must be worth something.
Intention to Create Legal Relations
At the time of making the contract both parties must have intended that the contract would be legally binding. If the offer to buy the bicycle was made by a drunk man in a beer parlour and accepted by a tired man on his way out of the beer parlour, it could be argued that there was no intention that such a contract was legally binding. Further, if the offer to buy the bicycle was made by a wife to her husband over dinner, it could also be argued that there was no intention to make that contract legally binding. The intention to create legal relations is inferred from the circumstances surrounding the offer and acceptance
Express and Implied Terms
These are the final ingredients of a contract. Implied terms are those conditions which the law imputes into the contract. For instance this contract to sell the bicycle could be governed by the Sales of Goods Act. Under the Sales of Goods Act there are several implied terms.
Apart from the implied terms, there are also express terms which would be agreed between the parties such as where the bicycle would be delivered, when the two hundred naira would be paid and so on.
This explanation aims to help you understand what a simple contract is. Contracts vary in complexity and when a contract becomes more and more complex, the need for a lawyer becomes more potent.
Gideon Okebu Esq.
G.M. George – Taylor &Co.