Yes, it is much easier and less admin to agree to something verbally. And, unless the relationship or situation turns sour, it could work out well for the parties involved. However, rather be prepared and reduce the agreement to writing. A verbal contract is very difficult to prove and it often becomes a he-said she-said sticky situation. Below are a few elements to consider when drawing up a valid written contract.
• Offer and Acceptance
The written document must express the intentions of both parties, meaning that it must highlight the material terms of the contract. This usually means an offer and an acceptance. Performance and counter-performance. Meaning that it can be an agreement of sale, or an agreement to render services, performance and reward, etc. One party usually makes an offer and the other party usually accepts the offer, there is an agreement between two or more parties involved.
The contract must also be lawful to be legal. It must be a legally binding obligation between the parties. In order for the contract to be lawful it should constitute a legal agreement between the parties. When one enters into an Illegal agreement same does not constitute a legally binding (enforceable) contract in the court of law.
• Legal Capacity to Contract
It is also very important to be mindful and to remember that the capacity to act is very important. This is true when entering in to any form of contract. Minors do not have the legal capacity to act. This means that full legal capacity in South Africa is attained at the age of 18. A minor does not have full legal capacity to enter into a valid contract and may only do so with the assistance of their legal guardian.
The contract needs to be certain. The terms and conditions need to be clear. It is best to not leave much for interpretation. The terms and conditions should not be vague, misleading or difficult to understand. The contract must be understood by both parties. For example, if a guest wants to stay in a hotel, the guest needs to inform the hotel how many days he or she is staying at the hotel, the type of room, and also the date when he or she will be staying. The contract must be in detail and provide clarity on all material terms entered into.
Once your agreement has been put in writing and agreed to, it is important for the parties involved to sign the document together with witnesses. A valid signature also extends to making a mark/ having a third party sign on your behalf in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths.
Most contracts are complex and requires a certain level of skill and experience. Legal Hero Policyholders, please contact us to assist in drafting a tailormade contract or perusing a legal document before you sign.