It might seem like agreeing to something is as easy as putting pen to paper, but it just isn’t that simple. There are important things to consider before signing any contract.
“At the start of most contractual relationships, people feel optimistic, excited and confident that they will achieve what the contract was intended for in the first place. But, things don’t always work out as planned. A contract isn’t just a record of a transaction; it also protects you. If you skim over the more detailed aspects that protect your rights and interests, you might regret it later on.” says LAW FOR ALL’s Contract Law Expert, Tau Munotsiwa.
Here are our Legal Expert’s top tips to keep you protected when entering into a contract:
- Read. Read Again. Ask. Understand and then Agree.
Always read the entire contract and make sure you understand the meaning of the words. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on the aspects you don’t understand (even if it seems silly). Only sign a contract if you completely agree with everything it says. If a contract mentions another document, always read that document. Don’t just assume you know what it says.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate or insist on changes.
Ask for what you want! Especially if you feel that it is necessary and beneficial to you. A good contract will clearly explain the rights and duties of everyone involved – that is the heart of any contract. It must say exactly who will do what, and when they need to do it. For example, a contract may say that one person will provide goods or services in return for payment. A good contract will clearly indicate what goods or services will be provided when it will be provided, how and when payment must be made.
- If you can’t get out, don’t get in!
People and businesses enter into contracts because they trust the other party and believe they’re able to do the job. It is only later on that they realise their trust was misplaced. A good contract will allow you to cancel for cause or convenience and explain exactly how you should go about the cancellation. If a contract does not say how to get out when things go wrong, then the clever thing to do is to not sign it in the first place.
- Specify how differences will be resolved.
No one wants to talk about the possibility of things going wrong or not working out. But you need to consider the possibility (to best protect yourself)! Disputes can be resolved by mediation, arbitration or litigation. Make sure that you choose the best way to resolve potential disputes in the contract. Ideally, you want to choose the option that is the least time consuming, stressful and doesn’t leave a hole in your pocket.
- If it’s illegal, it’s of no consequence.
It goes without saying that you cannot make a contract to do something illegal and expect the court to enforce it. For example, a contract to buy and sell drugs, body parts or a baby would be against public policy and would break many laws. Our courts won’t enforce such a contract and you risk losing any investment you make!
Breach of contract
Agreements aren’t just promises, but legal commitments. Essentially, if you don’t stick to what was agreed in the contract, you are breaching the contract. This could lead to the contract being cancelled and mean that you will have to pay compensation. However, the breach must be “material “and that differs from case to case depending on the facts.
We’ve got your back!
At LAW FOR ALL, we are there to get rid of our clients’ worry and stress when it comes to contracts. We offer comprehensive legal cover, giving clients access to lawyers who can advise on contractual matters or disputes. We also offer access to various basic contracts that keep our clients’ protected. Free contract templates can also be downloaded and printed directly from our website – at the click of a button.