Tampa Contract Lawyer
How Does Contract Law Work in Florida?
Legally binding contracts have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life for most Americans. Restricting the umbrella term "contract law" to any singular generalized definition is almost an exercise in futility. Contracts that involve these three elements—offer, acceptance, and consideration—are legally binding if they also adhere to any state, federal, or international rules regarding contracts.
For a contract to exist, three elements must be present:
- Be serious - The offer must be made in good faith and entirely seriously. Someone who agrees to something at gunpoint, or in a joking manner, isn't necessarily signing a contract.
- Have defined terms and conditions - Contracts cannot be completely open-ended. For example, if you read the popup for how a website "tracks cookies" carefully, you'll probably notice some fine print stating that the website stops tracking cookies as soon as you close it. Contracts must have a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end to be legally sound. Often, contract disputes when people allege that a certain type of contract (like an NDA) has unenforceable or illegal terms and conditions.
- Acceptance - For a contract to be valid, a party must accept the contract's terms while the offer is open. This is why you can't use expired coupons—you're trying to accept a closed offer for a contract that no longer exists. Typically, the best way to make or accept an offer is in person, through writing, with witnesses present. That's not always possible depending on the scale of the contract (user agreements, for example, almost never meet these guidelines), but it is a good rule of thumb for major contracts with a few key decision-makers at the helm. If the person offering the contract decides to change their terms, they must specify what changes should be made to the person accepting the contract and draft an entirely new contract incorporating those changes for the contract to be legally sound.
- Consideration - Consideration is the legal term for something of value that forms the basis of a contract. For example, let's say you agree to go play guitar at a wedding in exchange for $300. Your guitar-playing is legally defined as a "consideration."
Contracts are everywhere in our lives. Every time you download a new app on your phone, you sign a contract. Whenever you visit a website and quickly agree to whatever popup comes, up asking about cookies so you can keep browsing, you sign another one.
We sign contracts constantly—often, with little thought. That can give the impression that contracts aren't important or worth thinking about, but nothing could be further from the truth. Contracts are vital. Good contracts can offer protection to civilians and organizations. In contrast, poorly crafted or illegal contracts can lead to costly civil suits.
Suffice to say, contract attorneys—like our team here at Four Rivers Law Firm—understand the ins and outs of what makes a contract legally sound, and work with clients to either draft or dispute contract. Fortunately, what constitutes a legally binding contract is easier to define than what contract lawyers do. Our Tampa contract attorneys understand how to resolve contract disputes successfully, and know how to handle complicated contracts like Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs).
If you need to draft a legally sound contract or file a civil suit for a broken or illegal contract that affected you, having a good lawyer at your side is vital. To learn more or schedule a consultation with our business law firm, contact us online or via phone at (813) 331-5056.
Why Do I Need a Contract Lawyer?
Contract lawyers can be useful for a multitude of reasons:
- It will be easier to enforce the contract in court. Contracts only exist so the people involved can take legal action against each other if one party breaches the terms of an agreement. A contract lawyer can help you draft a contract that holds up under the scrutiny of a court.
- You gain access to an expert who knows things you probably don't. Contract lawyers will be familiar with federal, state, and even industry-specific regulations for contracts that can affect the legality of your agreement.
- You actually save money. The median cost for a business lawsuit comes in at around $54,000. Bringing a contract lawyer onto your team when creating or signing contracts is a fantastic value proposition that can save you (or your business) money in the long run.
Contract law has become more and more mainstream in recent years, especially surrounding NDAs. For example, NDAs were a focal point of the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, in which US Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George stated that NDAs Epstein’s employees signed presented a major obstacle for the AG’s office and made it excessively difficult to gather information on the case.
Is Breach of Contract Civil or Criminal?
Generally, the act of breaching a contract is a civil matter, not a criminal one. If someone breaks their contract, then that person could be sued for breach of contract, and it will be handled in the civil court. It is possible that a criminal action will cause the breach of contract, but the act of breaching the contract is not considered criminal.
An experienced contract lawyer can be a tremendous asset to individuals and business owners alike for both drafting and disputing contracts. At Four Rivers Law Firm, we have experience helping clients develop comprehensive contracts and take action against breaches of contract. From NDAs to business contracts and beyond, we have the tools to help you handle your case.