Many breach of contract court cases that the business litigation attorneys at Buffington Law Firm have handled derive from situations where our client entered into a contract where the parties agreed "to save money and not use lawyers..." The fact that our Firm later became involved probably tells you all that you need to know about how that turned out.
In the United States every mentally sound adult pretty much has the right to freely enter into a contract, so long as that contract is legal. The elements of creating a contract are defined in the California Civil Code as simply requiring: 1) offer; 2) acceptance; 3) consideration; and 4) a legal purpose. There is no requirement that the parties consult a lawyer or receive legal advice before entering a binding contract. What a great country!
Unfortunately, we live in a complex world where it is very easy for a person to enter into a contract that has hidden pitfalls that can have unsuspected and undesirable consequences. Common issues include:
- In a sale-of-business agreement, did the selling owners agree to a non-compete clause? Or is the well-liked former business owner planning on opening a competing business down the street from the new business owner?
- In a shopping mall leasing contract, is there a provision prohibiting the mall from allowing more than one business of your type? Imagine the horror of a small boutique coffee shop when he or she finds out that the shopping center in which they have a ten-year lease intends to lease to a Starbucks next door to them in the mall.
- Does the contract, whatever it is, provide for attorneys fees, arbitration, or a particular venue? These can wildly change the nature of a contract and yet many laypersons do not understand what these provisions mean, or what their effects can be.
- And finally, who drafted the contract? The other side's unseen lawyer, perhaps? If so, what do you suppose this says about the possibility that the contract contains hidden pitfalls for the unrepresented party?
These are only a tiny sample of the issues with which Buffington Law Firm's breach of contract attorneys have encountered when trying to rescue a bad situation deriving from a bad contract. While it is everyone's right to enter into a contract without paying a lawyer to review it first, or help to draft it, this can be a very dangerous practice. Just as cars have become too complex for most of us to repair without involvement by a professional mechanic, the legal environment in California and elsewhere is such that it is usually unwise for a layperson to enter into a significant business transaction without a lawyer's involvement. Don't be "penny wise and pound foolish"! Often a few hundred dollars spent in having a lawyer review a contract before you enter into it can save you far greater amounts of money, and untold headaches down the road. Buffington Law Firm's experienced business attorneys will review your contract for a very reasonable fee. Call us today at 714-450-6568 for a free consultation.
If you are a corporation, you may be interested in our Corporate Counselor Program. For a very nominal monthly fee we will review your contracts before you sign them, as well as being available for other routine legal matters and questions.