I. What is a contract?
a. A Promise that the law will enforce
b. Law won’t enforce:
i. Promises for gifts
ii. Against public policy (illegal)
iii. Illusory promises (promisor’s future is not bound by the statement – I promise to sell it to you if I want to.)
1. if you limit your future though, (If I buy the car, I’ll loan it to you) could be an enforceable promise
2. If the promisor has alternatives, it’s not necessarily illusory (If I buy the car, I’ll loan it to you or your cousin)
c. Bilateral contract
i. Promise exchanged for a promise
ii. I promise to give you my car if you promise to pay me $500.
d. Unilateral contract
i. Only a promise on once side, that promise is answered by an act or a forbearance to act (if you do not do something), not a promise to perform.
ii. I’ll pay you 10 if you mow my lawn.
i. If the contract involves a transaction in goods the UCC is the governing principal
ii. If not involving goods, it’s the common law
iii. Art. II(a) – transactions of leases of goods
II. When does the contract begin?
a. When there is a definite and clear offer, a contract comes into existence
b. If a manifestation has been made (handshake, signature) and the offer has been accepted, it is too late for one party unilaterally to change the agreement w/o the agreement of the other
i. This rule is always broken for some reason.
a. Intentional statement by the offeror that creates in the mind of the offeree the reasonable expectation that the offeror intended to get into a contract.
b. Things that don’t intend offers bound by contractual liability
i. Social situations (I’ll offer to make dinner tomorrow night)
ii. Marital situation (promises to take out the trash, etc)
1. if they enter into some kind of commercial venture, they can enforce the thing
iii. Gentlemen’s agreement
1. Even in a commercial situation, promisor and promise can Agree that promises have no legal enforceability
1. Don’t usually make contracts
2. Dr. says “You should be well in no time.”
c. Offer must be definite enough that we know what the contract is about
i. UCC 2-204 test if an offer is sufficiently definite
1. Did the parties intend to have a contract?
2. If yes, can the court fashion a remedy?
3. UCC allows gap filling for elliptical promises in commerce
a. Ex. if the K leaves out price, reasonable price is put in
b. If the place of delivery is left out, Seller’s place of delivery is assumed
c. If time is left out, reasonable time is presumed
4. Construction terms
a. Usage of trade
i. §1-205 Custom w/in the industry
ii. Determine how to fix contracts based on how other people do it in industry
b. Course of dealing
i. If parties dealt In the past – history then forms the course of dealing – base issue of contract on that dealing.
c. Course of performance
i. §2-208 – what parties do in performing this one K
ii. Especially used in installment K’s
iii. This was called practical construction at common law
iv. Even if the course of performance deviate from the express K, they can trump the terms of the K
ii. Preliminary Negotiations
1. Don’t want to create legal liability in negotiations
2. Courts are loath to let people out of contrats but are slow to admit they are in contracts
1. Mere solicitations for K’s and tough to enforce
2. Usually there is too much to be negotiated
3. Usually, the Buyer makes the offer
4. They can, however, be contracts in a first come first serve issues so long as a price and quantity is also listed (the black stoal)
iv. If parties agree on K but havn’t actually signed the K?
1. Look at intent and factors like were the parties supposed to perform prior to signing the contract?
a. If so, the courts will usually find that there was a K to protect the reliance interest
i. The reliance interest is where the party is acting such that it is to his detriment if the K is not fulfilled
b. If not, then the parties can feel free to back out
v. UCC Art II is to transactions of goods and bailment’s
1. bailment is where the goods are handed to a bailor for holding
2. goods are defined as objects that are movable
3. This, then excludes transactions in real property (home land) or contracts for services.
5. Mixtures – courts tend to ask which predominates?
a. Ex.: patron goes to beauty salon and a product put on the hair eats the ear
b. Really portends to what the court likes.
c. Is the Sale of Software the sale of goods?
i. Initially it was that they were intangibles
ii. Now people are saying UCC does apply to software
1. It’s bought as a package in a store
2. Lawyers like UCC
3. Court uses UCC by analogy
iii. Statute for sale of software UCITA
1. statute is unpopular b/c it has no protection of consumers – hasn’t been adopted.
6. Merchants don’t have to be involved
a. It is the sale of goods that is important
b. Merchants, though do have some special UCC rules that apply to it.
1. People who either deals with this good or in the practice on a regular basis; or
2. Should, by virtue of his/her profession, be held to that standard; or
3. He or she employs an agent, who should be held to that standard.
a. Often are not held to merchant standards because they are viewed as dumb
b. Lately, today’s farmer is smarter so courts are now holding them to merchant standards – they look at the expertise of the farmer
d. Termination of the offer
i. Offer lasts as long as it states as it is to last
ii. In the mean time, it is subject to revocation
1. Offoror can revoke the offer by giving notice to the offeree prior to the offeree’s acceptance of the offer.
a. This notice can be any true information that is inconsistent with the offeror’s continued intent to keep the offer on the table.
b. Ex. If while the offer is extended, the offeror makes the K with a third party, there is sufficient notice to the original offeree that the offer has been revoked.
2. The courts allow this except in the case of an option contract
3. Once revoked, the acceptance power is gone.
4. Extra consideration
a. If a separate consideration has been given to hold the offer open for a specific period of time this is now called and Option contract
i. A separate consideration or payment has been given to keep the offer open for an extended period of time.
ii. During that time, the offer is not revocable.
5. §2-205 Firm offer rule
a. If a merchant has made a signed statement that the offer will be held open, it is not revocable for as long as the statement says, but never longer than 3 months.
6. Unilateral contract
If I offer you $1000 to walk across the
ii. §45 of R1K says NO – once the oferee begins performance, the offeror’s power of revocation is gone for a reasonable time to see if full performance will be achieved.
7. Reliance on the offer
a. Can keep it from being revocable
b. Any time there is foreseeable detrimental reliance on an offer, the doctrine of promissory estoppel makes the offer binding.
c. Estoppel is a legal gag
i. You can’t bring anything up in a legal context
ii. The promissory is estopped from backing out of the offer
d. This happens in contracting and sub-contracting issues.
8. Stated time of Offer
a. If the offer is to remain open for an agreed time, it remains open for that reasonable time
b. If time is not made clear, it is open for a reasonable amount of time
i. If in a face to face/telephone conversation, the offer is revoked by the termination of the conversation
ii. In Rewards
1. The offer is open, reasonably (the purpose of the offer is fulfilled etc…
c. Death of the offeror or declared incompetence destroys ofer
a. Destroys power of acceptance.
a. Implied rejection, destroys power of acceptance
b. In option, however, counteroffer’s don’t really destroy acceptance unless there is reliance
c. Mere inquiry rule
i. I’ll sell you the tie for $10 (you ask if you would consider $5) as long as it’s merely an inquiry, you can still count on the original offer.
i. Announced intention of the offeree to accept the offer
ii. Can be done by conduct
iii. Performance will conotate an acceptance unless offeror has requested a formal promise.
b. §2-206 Offer is construed as inviting acceptance in any reasonable manner including shipping goods
i. Ex. You say “reply by return mail” and you email it back
ii. Court asks, “What would a reasonable person have thought that to mean?”
c. Mirror image rule
i. Acceptance has to look like the offer
ii. If the acceptance tries to add new terms, it becomes a counter offer.
iii. In business deals this brings trouble
1. Often exchanges of forms in the sending and receiving of goods, if the seller’s acknowledgement is not exactly like the buyer’s purchase order, it is viewed as a counteroffer and the performance makes the contract.
iv. §2-207 Battle of forms provision
1. an acceptance that purports to be an acceptance is an acceptance even if it changes the terms slightly, unless it requires express agreement to the new terms. Then it would be a mere counter offer.
2. A proviso clause is clause that requires agreement to the new terms and thus, the acceptance becomes a counter offer.
3. If they are not merchants, the new terms are merely proposals for addition to the contract that must be agreed to either by action or words.
4. If both parties are merchants: new terms become bart of the contract unless:
a. Buyer objects to the new terms (they are out of the contract)
b. Objection could be initially or after the new clauses were there.
c. if the new clauses would materially alter the original offer, the new terms aren’t part of it
5. Terms that would result in hardship or material alteration
a. Disclaimer of warranties
b. Arbitration clause
c. These are merely stricken from the contract, The rest of the acceptance are still a legit acceptance
6. If the parties perform, the contract exists and the new clauses are allowed.
7. Use of proviso gets to subsection 3 – non use of proviso goes to subsection 2 (battle of forms)
i. If you pick up an object on the shelf, the offer is the placing of the object on the shelf, and the acceptance is the buyer taking the object off the shelf.
1. by custom, he is free to put it back on the shelf, but for all intents and purposes, the contract is made.
2. If the product malfunctions prior to the buyer’s paying for it
i. Typically not acceptance unless there is a duty to speak
ii. If the past dealings, it is reasonable for a person to speak up if he’s not obliged to
1. this is with mail order – CL says if you keep it and use it, you have accepted
2. 1970 code – unsolicited mail orders are a gift and don’t need to be returned.
1. if true unilateral contract, acceptance is not until you complete b/c you have made no promise
iv. If you are a contractor building a house, and go halfway and stop. If this doesn’t feel right, it’s a bilateral contract where the building of the house is an implied promise.
1. Bilateral contracts protect both parties and are made quicker, courts, then like them.
1. seller got a late acceptance and didn’t say anything.- was there a contract?
a. Offeror said no, the acceptance was late
b. Late acceptance was a new offer which original offeror accepted with his silence
2. Failure to object ot a late acceptance is an acceptance of that late acceptance as if it were an offer.
i. Buyer’s motive in acceptance doesn’t destroy power of acceptance
ii. Reward offer for info leading to murderer’s capture
1. woman is dying and was trying to clear her conscience and gave the info.
2. She recovered and wanted the reward money. Courts said, we won’t look at motive, only the requisite act.
iii. You have to know of the reward to claim the reward.
1. if you don’t know of the offer, you can’t make an acceptance.
2. If you’re a government offering a reward, the acceptor doesn’t have to know of the offer before acceptancing.
g. Mail Box Rule
i. The acceptance is the instance it goes into the mail
1. Option K’s – if offeree has paid separate option to keep offer option, the acceptance must be received during option period
2. Seller in original offer demands receipt as condition of the contract.
iii. If the offeree mails the acceptance and phones a rejection, the rejection is ineffective b/c the mail box rule.
1. If the offeree mails the rejection then the acceptance, they protect the innocent parties.
i. Auctioneer is soliciting bids, the audience is the offeror, the auctioneer is the offeree
ii. The offeror, then, can retract a bid before the gavel hits (when the auctioneer accepts) by announcing to do so, then the auction must start over.
iii. Auctions with reserve
1. seller reserves the right to stop the auction if the auctioneer doesn’t like the amount (too low)
i. What ever the promise is exchanged for, the exchange that goes on necessary to creation of the contract
b. Sufficient consideration
i. That which is exchanged for the promise must be a benifit to the promisor and a detriment to the promisee
ii. I sell you car for $500, it benefits me to get $500, detriment to lose the car.
1. If you don’t do certain things, I’ll give you a certain amount of money.
2. Paying promisee to forbear from doing bad things (their detriment is them not doing something they had a legal right to do)
3. Benefit to the promisor (he got to control the promisee’s lifestyle)
c. Consideration must be exchanged
i. Hypo: I get into a surety for a person, is there any benefit for me?
ii. The detriment to the promisee (the person who credited the money) is enough – surety’s don’t get to argue consideration
i. Sufficiency is that which is exchanged must have some value in the eyes of the law – some legal value
ii. Adequacy is how much was exchanged
1. the Law will not question the adequacy, only the sufficiency
iii. What has legal value sufficient for consideration?
1. Love and affection has NO value in the eyes of the law
a. Offer $500 to love me – can’t do it, promises to make a gift would be unenforceable
2. Something must be truly exchanged
a. Voodoo is not sufficient consideration (nothing was exchanged)
3. Sale of Ideas where the idea is obvious
a. Man wants profits to give idea to company, his idea, then, is raise prices – you can’t sell obvious ideas
iv. “How much” usually isn’t asked (don’t police bargains)
1. If contract is uncontionable, the courts won’t enforce
a. you will buy jalopy for 100,000
2. A fungable exchange
a. Fungable - Objects you can mix up and not care if you get back the original (ex: grain, money)
b. I’ll give you $50 now for $500 – can’t do it unless there’s time value (like a loan)
c. Courts will allow option contracts to be sold for very small amount
v. Forbearance is sufficient consideration
1. Forbearance to exercise a valid lawsuit (baby daddy) is fine, if the lawsuit is not real however, there is no sufficient consideration.
2. the CL is if the woman had a good – faith belief that he was father, then it was ok though
3. A creditor comes to the door and Sarah answers, she says if you promise to forbare from collecting this debt for 1 year, I’ll pay it at the end, the creditor says nothing and leaves. 1 year passes and he comes to collect, she says that she was lookding for a promise to forbear, not performance, the court sided with her (she was looking for peace of mind)
vi. Illusory promise is not sufficient, but requirement or necessity contracts do
1. Can’t though – I promise to sell you all that you want to buy from me – no quantity
vii. Past- consideration
1. Has no legal value – must be recent consideration
viii. Moral-Obligation of past consideration
1. Girl taken care of by her aunt – she becomes an adult and the aunt asks her for help. The girl then signs a contract to help the aunt. She does not and the aunt dies. The girl wasn’t responsible b/c the consideration happened too far in the past.
2. Some courts will say that the relief from moral obligation can be sufficient consideration, most will say that it’s not sufficient.
3. A promise by one who was an infant, makes a contract, and then upon 18 reaffirms his debt – that is enforceable.
4. A promise to pay a debt barred by the running of statute of limitations – this is enforceable as well
a. Sometimes the act of making a payment on an old debt is enough to revive the entire debt – unless the payment specifically says, “this is all that will be paid”
5. Where there is obvious benefit to promise but it happened in the past so it’s not really exchanged
a. Man saves another’s life, and cripples himself in the process
b. The person he saved then promised him to pay for all his injuries (problem here, the promise was made after the performance – the saving of his life)
c. Courts, though, may be nice and allow this.
6. Car brakes down and garage fixes the car w/o discussion of the payment, then later, the person comes and says, I’ll pay you now for it.
a. This isn’t really quibbiled with b/c there was understanding that the garage fixing it was going to be for pay and was kinda a credit situation
b. It is called a quasi-contract situation.
ix. Pre-Existing Duty Rule
1. If one has a pre-existing duty, there is no consideration for a new contract to do the same thing.
a. If you offer a reward for felon’s capture – you can’t allow the police officer to collect the reward. – even if it happens on his day off.
b. There is PP in preventing officials from accepting rewards for doing their job.
2. Modification of a pre-existing duty
a. If there is simply more money for same job, there is no extra consideration.
i. PP - don’t want to reward extortion.
ii. If, however, there is unforeseen difficulty in a pre-existing duty, sometimes the court will allow additional fees for the same job.
b. If, you don’t give full-payment and forgive the rest, it often is not acceptable in courts b/c there is also a pre-existing duty to pay in full, and the new sum doesn’t have sufficient consideration.
i. Courts have way around this though, if there is a legit dispute as to amount due, the compromise is called an accord and satisfaction.
ii. Idea here is that it isn’t common sense to not accept anything at all.
3. UCC – no consideration needed to modify the contract of a sale of goods – it just allows modifications (unless they are substantial modifications)
x. Payment-in-Full checks
1. If you have a good faith dispute and a good faith effort to solve it. (this is another form of accord and satisfaction)
a. (you bought something and had to pay to get it to work, you can deduct the costs of the services needed and pay with a payment in full tendered check w/ not of why that small amount is the payment in full.
2. UCC – Doesn’t allow the payee to cross out the payment in full check to cross out the language, write cashed under protest to avoid accord and satisfaction and cash the check.
a. – If the person cashes the check, usually that means you are just fine.
b. UNLESS – the company who cashed the check is some big bureaucracy like sears and refunds the money in 90 days –
c. If there is a legal dispute, and the money isn’t refunded in 90 days, the dispute is over.
VI. Promissory Estoppel
a. Estoppel is a legal gag
i. Forseeable detrimental reliance, of a substantial nature no the promise
ii. The promise is enforced b/c other wise injustice would be done.
c. In Charities
i. There is no proof of reliance necessary – promises to charities are always enforceable.
ii. If it were for the law school, however, there would have to be proof of reliance – the rule only works for charities.
d. Cases where doctrine comdes up
i. Promises to obtain insurances
1. we bought boat, you promised to get insurance, I rely on it, you didn’t get insurance, the boat sinks, you are now responsible for the amount of the boat.
e. Problem w/ PE – you are confessing that there is something legally wrong w/ the original contract.
i. Shouldn’t be the first line of attack
f. Courts have curtailed the damages
i. Ex: Man trying to obtain Randalls store franchise, Randalls req’s him to sell his bakery, for 1 summer run a small town grocer to see if you can do it, buy land, borrow money, get your father in law to kick in money as gift – Man saw that they were just upping the ante so he quit and sued
1. Since he relied on the success of the venture, much to his detriment – the courts allowed a case to be brought on promissory estoppel – the first where it wasn’t a shield, it was a sword.
2. Lost profits, though, you really can’t allow in PE cases, you get you’re out of pocket expenses.
VII. Statute of Frauds
a. To prevent against fraud and perjury: Certain agreements have to be in writing.
b. Writing must contain:
i. A signature by the person to be sued, but doesn’t need the plaintiff (he affirms when he sues on it.)
ii. Must contain all of the terms of the agreement, doesn’t need be in one writing – can be in different writings and the court can tack them together as long as:
1. the writings must include all the essentials elements
2. one must be signed by the person being sued
3. they must all refer to each other so we can see that they naturally belong together.
c. Attacking integrity of the writing: If client signed the writing, but the client wants to get out of it. Ask them, what was left out of the written contract that you had agreed too? You get in the evidence that there was something agreed to that was left out of the contract, now you have a statute of frauds defense.
d. What kinds of K’s need writing
i. Promises by executors or administrators to answer debts of estate out of own personal pocket.
ii. Promises of a surety--Promises to answer for the debt of another
1. Ways around the SofF’s for surety’s
a. A surety is if one does not pay his debt, the debt goes to me. If I am paying the amount he owes, but he is not the primary obligor, just a 3rd party beneficiary, there is no SoF situation.
b. The promise that must be in writing for surety must be the promise between the creditor and the guarantor, not between the guarantor and the principal.
c. Main Purpose rule—Leading object rule – if the object of the surety is not to help the principal, but to further the guarantor’s interests, it really doesn’t need to be in writing.
iii. Promises in consideration of marriage.
1. Two people being married, I promise them I’ll give them a wedding gift. – This must be in writing to be enforceable.
2. Promise of one fiancée to another to get married is not required to be in writing, but it is actionable. – in many jurisdictions, however, they are outlawed.
iv. Contracts in any interest of real property
1. Sales, mortgages or leases of land must be in writing.
2. Some states have special statutes for oral leases
3. Licenses to use land are not covered by SoF.
v. Promises that cannot be performed w/in one year.
1. Long term contracts have to be in writing.
2. If it’s one year and a day, though, the courts tend to ignore one day problems.
a. Most states have time statutes (which dates to count, etc.)
3. Writing doesn’t have to be the contract, just evidence of the contract.
4. If contract might naturally terminate w/in the year’s period, doesn’t need to be in writing.
vi. UCC – K’s for sale of goods over $500 must be in writing
1. Leases of goods must be over $1,000
vii. Quantity is the only complete necessary element that must be included in a written contract
1. basically everything else can be inferred from other evidence.
e. Statutes of Fraud exceptions
1. Any mark denoting signature is good. (even initials are ok)
ii. Times when no writing is required.
1. Special manufacturing exception
a. If goods are specially manufactured by seller for the buyer and there will be no market for them, then no writing is necessary
2. Admissions exception
a. Admission of a quantity that’s part of pleadings testimony is enforceable. Then no writing is necessary
3. Part performance exception
a. If goods have been paid for, or goods have been accepted up to the amount paid for or accepted, we can assume there was a K.
i. If it’s a down payment on an item, the seller tries to get out of the K, the courts have said that a down payment on an indivisible item is sufficient to not involve the statute of frauds.
4. Merchants confirmation rule
a. If two merchants deal together orally and negotiate out deal. A letter is sent confirming the deal and signs it. If the merchant receives the letter and does not object to the terms, he loses his statute of frauds defense.
i. The terms of the contract can still be at issue, but the statute of frauds defense is relinquished.
iii. A modification of the writing
1. Unless the contract, as modified, is no longer covered by the statute of frauds, any modification must be also in writing.
iv. Mitigating Doctries where there is no requirement in writing.
1. if there has already been full performance – there obviously was a contract.
2. Estoppel to get around the statute of frauds.
a. If you tell someone you signed the K and didn’t, you are estopped from using that defense in the lawsuit.
b. Opinions of experts (attorneys) that a K was not supposed to be in writing and it’s relied upon, the courts estopp parties from using the SoF defense.
a. Statute of Frauds is an affirmative defense and it must be brought up in answer or it’s waived
4. Promissory estoppel
a. The foreseeable detrimental reliance on a contract is enough to estopp the defense of the Statute of Frauds.
a. If one party has given enough benefit to the other side that it would be unfair not to make them pay for it, there is still a possibility of recovery.
VIII. Defenses- Avoidance of the K
i. Contract on mistake is voidable and not automatically void
1. Parties have both made mistakes, they courts then have them return remedies exchanged.
a. A misunderstanding on the basis of the K prevented a meeting of the minds so the K is voidable
b. The test is whether the substance of the K is substantially different once the mistake has been discovered. Ex – you sell a supposedly barren cow for meat, it is discovered that the cow could bear children (it’s worth much more now) therefore the cow with calf is substantially different than a cow for meat.
c. Another test is if in selling something, you also sell the risk that it is worth a great deal more than you sold it for. Ex – you sell a rock to a person for $1 – but the rock turns out to be worth $700, you can’t rescind the K.
3. Mistakes of value are almost never the kinds of mistakes that result in the rescinding of a K b/c we are all aware of the uncertainty of value.
1. Tougher to get relief b/c only one party erred – they usually feel the errant party is simply careless.
2. Courts give relief when:
a. Mistaken bid situations – usually arithmetic errors – courts allow mistake as long as the error is caught before there is substantial reliance by the bidding authority.
i. If the Non mistaken party should know the other side made a mistake, you can’t take advantage of the mistaken party.
ii. Example – bid is stupidly low, the non mistaken party asks him to look at the low bid, and he eats it (it’s just fine – a revocation of the bid before it’s accepted)
b. If the other side caused the mistake – the court rushed the bid or bad information
c. If it would be unconscionable to enforce the bid.
3. A mistaken contract (Ex. A sale of a horse is spoken as a sale of a cow), if the other side realizes the mistake and goes forward assuming what the mistaken party meant, the court will assume the mistaken issue and basically treat the contract as if were for the right thing.
1. material misrepresentation of an existing fact,
a. If someone makes an unintentional misrepresentation, it’s called constructive fraud.
b. Conduct can be fraud (spray painting the engine black to make it shiny)
i. It’s generally difficult to hold silence a fraud but is usually ok if there would be a serious miscarriage of justice if the fraud wasn’t corrected.
ii. If something dangerous is left out of a contract (house you’re selling has rats) it can be found to be fraud.
i. A misrepresentation of the state of a man’s mind, if you can prove it, it’s actionable
ii. A man’s state of mind can certainly be an existing fact.
iii. An opinion of someone who has superior knowledge (lawyer or doctor) is usually found to be a material misrepresentation.
i. If at the time the person made the promise he had no intention of fulfilling the promise, and you can prove it, it’s a fraud
2. done with reckless disregard for whether or not the mistaken statement is true;
3. the frauded individual relied upon the misrepresentation; and
a. reliance need not be reasonable (courts dosen’t usually require reasonable reliance) just justifiable reliance (why did the person rely – gullibility is just fine for why he relied)
4. There were damages.
a. Often punitive damages will be administered.
1. Fraud contracts are voidable – but the plaintiff accusing fraud can argue rescinding the contract AND for the amount he expected to get on the K
a. At CL: You usually can’t do this, rescission plus lost profits isn’t generally allowed b/c it would be arguing for a recession and a completion of a K.
b. At UCC: A claim for recession shall not bar the remedies a person would otherwise be awarded (including lost profits)
c. Duress and undue influence
i. K was entered into when he was deprived of free will (K signed at gun point)
ii. The K is voidable
iii. How much coercion is subjective (matter of convincing that the person was deprived of free will)
iv. Economic duress is a hard sell (b/c of my financial difficulties, he made me sign the K) the situation must be extreme for this to be allowed
d. Undue Influence
i. Influence of Trust
1. K was signed in situation where someone had free will but were tricked by someone they trusted
2. A person who uses a person’s trust to feather their own nest
ii. Influence of situation
1. K’s negotiated under inappropriate circumstances – man accused of homosexuality in 50s as a schoolteacher – super and principal insist a K is signed renouncing his right to be a school teacher.
2. this is over influence – he was allowed to rescind his resignation b/c his situation was ridiculous
iii. Influence of mental situation
1. K signed at grieving woman at husbands funeral or with ill people in hospitals.
iv. Courts can reform or rescind the K at option of the Plaintiff
v. Releases of future liability
1. People thinks injuries are minor, signs release of liability but his injuries turn out to be much more
2. Lots of cases say that if no one who thought that the injury that occurred was involved in the transaction, the release can be avoided no matter how it is phrased.
i. Void as a matter of Public Policy
ii. Ex: agreements to not support spouse during marriage, or not to support children
iii. If it violates a statute or law, it’s illegal
1. Truth in lending act language on paperwork can’t be misrepresented b/c it would be illegal.
iv. The law leaves guilty parties on an illegal contract outlawed – they cannot go to a court on the K. they are left as they are.
1. While guilty parties are forbidden to enforce the contract, the innocent parties get some enforcement – law takes pity upon them
v. Gambling contracts are illegal except in casino’s
vi. Failure to get a license to practice law but you practice law anyway
1. Courts line is “what was the purpose of the license?”
a. If it’s to limit the actions of the people (with atty’s and dr.’s), the contracts, then are tainted with illegality.
b. If it’s to generate money, not so much
vii. Covenants not to compete
1. Okay in a sale of business
a. Selling retain establishment – you’ll sell the goodwill of the business, the valuable reputation.
b. If you then set up another store across the street, you take all the goodwill with you. So a covenant not to compete is usally signed with the sale of the business to protect the buyer.
2. in employment situation, however,
a. An agreement that if you are employed by a law firm (or something else) and you leave, you can’t set up a competing lawfirm
i. Viewed w/ much suspicion b/c it’s less volitional so they can get a job.
b. For a court to uphold an agreement not to compete (by issing injunction not to establish businesses):
i. Person to be enjoined must have particular talents or abilities that will hurt the other side - he’s a super sales person or has knowledge of trade secrets.
1. Dr’s, Attys, Athletes and entertainers are usually held to have particular talents.
ii. Place in which the injunction is to cover, must be reasonable
iii. Time period must be reasonable – can’t stop someone from practicing for the rest of time.
1. Should court blue pencil by reforming the contract through cutting out what is unreasonable?
a. Some say yes, done in situations with a business rather than an employee situation.
b. Some say no b/c it doesn’t encourage careful drafting. They would then draft overly broad contracts.
3. Palimony agreements (unmarried coinhabitants)
a. Agreements on how they will live their lives
b. Any meretricious elements (trading money for sex) is bad (the K is void for illegality)
c. The courts are divided
i. Some say no enforcement (states have law to not allow common law marriages)
ii. Some say wait, enforcement is necessary
i. Capacity is the illegal ability to enter into a contract.
ii. K made with parties who lack legal capacity are voidable, not void.
1. a minor who makes a K may elect to pay after he is aged.
iii. Minors below 18
1. no capacity to make K’s except for the necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter)
2. Can disaffirm K’s prior to being 18 and a reasonable time thereafter
3. Minor must give back any consideration if the minor still has the property. If he doesn’t have it still, he can still disaffirm.
4. PP with kids is to leave them alone b/c disaffirming K’s is your risk.
5. In business situations (infant opens a business) where the other side doesn’t know about it, the Infant can’t disaffirm usually (Ex. Rockstars buying a bus)
6. Some statutes allow infants to contract after certain things
a. after an infant is married
b. getting into the military
7. Estoppel to assert the infancy
a. he lied about his age
i. kids are thought of as chimps. But in some states, if it’s in writing it can be estopped
iv. Mental Infirmaty
1. voidable by person or guardian
2. Courts usually look to equity:
a. People who took advantage of infirm is usually acted upon quickly
b. If the infirm appeared normal, the courts are more forgiving.
1. it is volitional, the courts are usually not so kind to them
2. the drunkedness has to be extreme to the point of insanity and blindness, the courts require the the person, upon sobering up must immediately disaffirm
i. K’s that are too unfair to be enforced
1. b/c one party has superior bargaining position isn’t enough.
ii. UCC 2-302, 2-108
1. If court as matter of law decides that the K is unconscionable, the K may be stricken or blue-penned to create fairness
2. Where there is an unconscionablility argument, there must be a hearing as to commercial setting – the hearing is a precedent.
3. procedural uncons. Is enough to make the K uncons. If it’s a lease.
4. Atty’s fees can exceed the amount sued for if it’s a lease issue
iii. The issue is a question of law for the courts. (not juries)
iv. K likes this definition of Unconscionability
1. the court must find procedural and substantive unconscionability
a. Procedural - Unfairness in the bargaining process, the superior position in the K is used to make the other party sign an adhesion K. or some kind of trick
b. Substantive – K must be really unfair
v. Kinds of K’s
1. A person who is uneducated signs a K that has an indemnity and exculpatory clause
a. The person should have been warned of the clauses and getting atty to help you on this.
2. There is also a duty to read.
3. Termination clauses – if there is substantial reliance.
a. UCC requires notification for termination clauses to be valid.
IX. Impossibility, Impracticability, Frustration
i. Destruction of Subj. Matter
ii. Under UCC, delay or non-delivery is not breach of seller’s duty if perf. As agreed was made impracticable by something that wasn’t supposed to happen happened
iii. If an essential but intangible aspect of the K becomes impossible, this defense works (Ie: bankrupt, so can’t pay)
iv. Due to failure of 3rd party to perform; depends on if the 3rd party is mentioned in the K, if the 3rd party is willing to contract, and the 3rd party necessary for perf.
v. Death or illness of K specific perf by a specific person, or of 3rd party necessary for perf.
i. Less severe than impossible: “infeasible from a commercial viewpoint”
ii. Sellers usually cannot use this for price increases when the K is fixed price.
c. Frustration of Purposes
i. A party’s purpose for entering into the K is destroyed
ii. Cts will not enforce a pointless K.
iii. Distinguish cannot perform from makes no sense to perform.
iv. Look at:
1. Frustrationability: the less frustrationable the event, the better the chance.
2. Totality: the more totally frustrated the party is, the better the chance.
i. Cts will try to allow one of the parties to recover the value rendered to the other or preparations for perf.
i. It is explicit promise that the goods have a certain quality.
ii. Includes a description of the goods (“3 carat white flawless diamond”).
iii. Includes a sample or model the buyer is shown.
iv. Does not include “puffing.”
b. Implied warranty of merchantability
i. The goods are merchantable: goods are fit for which such ordinary goods are used.
ii. Always given unless otherwise disclaimed, in which case there ware stringent requiredments in the UCC
c. For a particular purpose
i. Seller must have reason to know the goods are for a particular purpose and know the buyer is relying on seller’s judgment, and the buyer must in fact rely on the judgement.
ii. Does not count if buyere demands particular brand of goods.
i. Express: rare. Must be clearly and rashionably done.
1. must be explicit, and if done in writing, must mention the word “merchantability” and be easy to see.
2. Same for Particular Purpose.
iii. Language of the sale may also implicitly limit or disclaim warranty
1. if buyer asked to examine sample, model, or the actual goods
2. course of dealing
a. If a K is executory only on one side, the completely performing party can give up his rights and discharge the other party
b. The release must usually have cons’n (in addition to that of the K)( or a statutory substitute (ex: a signed writing)
c. Under UCC, a signed writing is sufficient even w/o consideration.
XII. Implied Contracts
a. Implied in Fact - implied from conduct
b. Implied in Law – quasi K – So there’s no injustice, the K will be made by the courts.