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Personal and Consumer Contracts
Most people will enter into a contract at some point in their lives and it is almost impossible to avoid. Because of this, it is important to understand your rights and obligations when you do so. Contracts take many forms, from consumer contracts, such as mobile phone plans or the purchase of goods or services, to oral contracts with a casual domestic cleaner, to formal lease contracts, or the sale contract entered when a house is bought or sold.
Sometimes it might not be clear whether there is a contract at all. It is important to remember that you are entering into a contract every time you:
- make a purchase;
- hire a tradesperson;
- book a holiday;
- join the gym;
- up your phone account;
- or download music.
Contractual terms are binding once you have agreed to them. This means that you are legally obligated to fulfil them. Similarly, if you have entered into a contract with another person, they may be required to fulfil obligations to you, such as paying you a certain amount of money for the sale of goods or performance of services.
Even though contracts are binding, there may be circumstances in which an individual who has entered a contract can be released from it. These might include a failure to perform obligations by another party, or if the contract was entered into because of a mistake or misunderstanding. Other important considerations might include whether the contract was entered into as a result of some misrepresentation or unfair pressure. This might include one party taking advantage of a weaker party, such as an elderly person, or someone who does not speak sufficient English to understand what is happening.
Contracts are complex, and many aspects of the contracting process can raise questions. These might include:
- Have I entered a contract agreement properly?
- What are the terms of the contract I have entered?
- Can I change the terms if I am not happy with them?
- What happens if there is a breach of the agreement?
- How can I get out of a contract I don't want to be in?
Legal advice can help you resolve any questions about a contract you may have entered.