A void contract is a written agreement that is not legally enforceable. If you are about to enter into a contract in the State of Florida, it is vital for you to make sure it is enforceable. So, what makes a contract void? In this article, you will find the answer.
Do No Enter Into a Void Contract – Look for the Four Essential Elements
The four essential elements of a legally binding contract are offer, acceptance, consideration, and certainty of terms. Any contract that does not have all four is a void contract.
The offer should be clear and unambiguous in order to allow the other party to understand it perfectly and simply say “yes” to accept it. For example, if George asks Will “will you wash my car Sunday at noon for $30?” then all Will has to say to accept the offer is “yes” because he knows exactly what he will need to do in order to fulfill his obligation in exchange for the money.
There are, however, different ways to accept an offer, depending on the type of contract. For a bilateral contract, which is a contract that requires a promise in exchange for another promise, then either words or conduct will signal acceptance, and it is necessary to notify the offering party of the acceptance. For example, the car washing promise is a bilateral agreement, as George is promising to give Will $30 and Will is promising to wash George’s car. To signal his acceptance, Will needs to say yes, which would also give George notice of acceptance.
On the other hand, for a unilateral contract, which is a contract that only requires performance in exchange for a promise, then conduct will signal acceptance, and it is not necessary to notify the offering party of the acceptance of the offer. The best example of a unilateral contract is a Lost Dog poster because, when you see one, you are not legally required to tell the lost dog’s owner that you will be helping to search for the dog; all you need to do is simply start searching. If you find it, you return it to the owner, and then you receive the promised reward.
When it comes to consideration, in order to meet this requirement, there needs to be a detriment and a bargain for exchange. Detriment is usually an inhibition of a legal right or a surrender of a right. The word “bargain” in “bargain for exchange” is what the party making the offer seeks to obtain in exchange. The word “exchange” is what the other party gives in exchange for the promise. Continuing with the above example, Will’s detriment would be that he is surrendering his legal right to not wash George’s car if he accepts the offer and enters into the agreement, while George’s detriment is that he is paying $30.
The fourth essential element is certainty of terms. To avoid making a void contract, there needs to be enough certainty regarding the terms for them to provide a basis for determining whether a breach exists and provide a basis for selecting an appropriate remedy when a breach occurs.
Without certainty of terms, then the parties’ expectation interest in the outcome of the agreement is simply not protected. In the George and Will scenario, the terms are certain enough to determine what is considered a breach and what will be the appropriate remedy. It is very straightforward: if George does not pay Will the $30 once he washes the car, then George breaches the contract, and the remedy would be to simply pay Will the promised amount.