Michelle A. Greer has been a certified paralegal for 20 years and currently works as a senior paralegal and licensed mediator for the Law Office of Jeffrey H. London, P.A. located in Pikesville, Maryland. She attends the University of Baltimore School of Law and is a "2014"Juris Doctorate (J.D.) Candidate for Admission to the Maryland Bar. Ms. Greer is a prolific motivational speaker and distinguished career developer. Having over 15 years experience as a community advocate and business consultant, she has become a leading expert on women's services and the development of personal crisis management strategies. She has been featured in various publications and has appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows, including the OWN Network.
Legal Talk 101: Basics That We All Should Know
Written by Michelle A. Greer
The global economy is a complex, yet necessary system that is fueled by human consumption and our dependency upon the exchange of property, goods and/or services. Everyday, each of us play a very intricate role in its operation and efficiency, whether it be as merchants and/or consumers. The glue that solidifies and binds us to these transactions are commonly referred to as contracts, be they verbal or written. But how much do we as layman consumers really know about contracts? And, what if any, are the bare basics that each of us should know before becoming party to such transactions? Let's think of a contract as a smart formula for successful transactions, that requires two (2) essential components to exist; they are offer and acceptance. Of course as a general rule of thumb, it's prudent to always consult with an attorney before entering into such transactions. However, given the frequency in which we engage in these transactions on a daily basis, it almost becomes absurd to think that one could possibly receive the benefit of prior legal counsel for each. Take for example, a verbal contract between myself and verizon for an upgrade on my services. I don't have a written contract in front of me, and no way to consult with an attorney prior to agreeing to the terms that are being discussed. Here is where knowing the basic formula for formation of a contract becomes beneficial to me as the layman consumer. Formation formula: Offer + Acceptance = Contract. Simply put, I need to have a clear understanding of what is being offered and what I am agreeing to accept. On the surface this formula seems to be quite simple; however, consumer disputes arise everyday because one or both parties to the transaction weren't clear about the terms. In our verizon example, an area that could clearly give rise to a consumer dispute would be the offer to upgrade services. To what services does the offer for upgrade apply? How will the upgrade affect the remaining services that are not directly or specifically mentioned in the offer? How will the offered upgrade affect the terms and conditions of my original contract? If accepted without knowing the answer to these and other possible questions, the consumer could accept an offer; thereby forming a contract that he or she would not have accepted if he or she had been fully aware of the other relevant terms and conditions.
This weeks's Legal Talk 101 Basics that we all should know are:
1). Verbal and Written Contracts are binding.
2). Offer + Acceptance = Contract.
3). Always take time to ask questions about all relevant terms and
conditions prior to accepting.
4). Always ask for the offer in writing and read the terms carefully.
5). Written contracts provide the best means of spelling out agreed
upon terms and conditions.
6). When possible, always consult with an attorney.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein represent the views of the writer and do not constitute legal advise. It is strongly recommended that all readers consult with an attorney for legal advise and/or information pertaining to Contract Law.