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Contracts are Serious Business

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I have no claim that this advice should be taken as legal advice in replacement of seeking out professional help. What I hope to do is educate you over a series of small posts about what constitutes a contract and you should be able to figure out when you might need to see a real lawyer. Although this series is in the Australian context many of the principles apply in other countries.

The Myth of Writing your own Contracts

One of the stupidest things anybody could do in business is try to shortcut their way through the legal landscape. Just like accountants will save you more money than they cost… so will hiring a decent lawyer.

For a lot of people this is real news: a contract isn’t just anything you cobble together and get some fool to sign. There is a structure, like a dance, that determines when and where any contract was made, the parts that are valid and the aspects the courts will or won’t enforce. But I’ve received my fair share of these self-authored car wrecks to know it’s a real problem. People do want to cut corners in the short-term.

The real and present danger is that small businesses generally have no idea about contract law… and I’m hoping they might glean one thing from reading through this series of 15 posts (starting with Contracts 101 – Part 1: Outline). That one thing is this: Sometimes you just need to know when to hire a lawyer. Appreciate what you don’t know.

Installments in Contracts 101

  • Contracts 101 – Part 1: Outline
  • Contracts 101 – Part 2: Which Contract?
  • Contracts 101 – Part 3: The Six Elements
  • Contracts 101 – Part 4: The Agreement
  • Contracts 101 – Part 5: The Offer
  • Contracts 101 – Part 6: The Acceptance
  • Contracts 101 – Part 7: Battle of the Forms
  • Contracts 101 – Part 8: Consideration
  • Contracts 101 – Part 9: Capacity
  • Contracts 101 – Part 10: Legality of Object
  • Contracts 101 – Part 11: Possibility of Performance
  • Contracts 101 – Part 12: Genuine Consent
  • Contracts 101 – Part 13: Promissory Estoppel
  • Contracts 101 – Part 14: Ending the Contract
  • Contracts 101 – Conclusion: Protect your Business

Resources for this Series

The bulk of this information is obtained through Australian Business Law 26th edition by Paul Lattimer, Managers and the Law: A guide for Business Decision Makers by Lynden Griggs, Eugene Clark and Ian Iredale, A Guide to Business Law thirteenth edition by John Carvan, John Gooley and Evelyn McRae, Law in Commerce third edition by Brendan Sweeney and Jennifer O’Reilly, as well as through the MBA unit BFA682 Law for Managers taught at the University of Tasmania by Simone Watson in 2009. These resources are highly recommended for improving your understanding about these issues. Many case files hyperlinked within this series are directly accessed via the Austlii database (Australia) and the BAILLI database (United Kingdom).

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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