Is It Illegal to Write a Contract Without a Lawyer?

Related Articles

It isn't illegal to write a contract without an attorney. A contract can be simple or complex and is an agreement between two or more parties. It can be a written or oral agreement. A contract doesn't have to be on a preprinted or standardized form: It can be written on a napkin and still be legitimate.

Two parties can agree between themselves and create their own contract. Contract law, however, requires that all contracts must contain certain elements to be valid and enforceable.

The Elements of a Contract

A contract must contain certain key elements to be valid. It must contain an offer and acceptance of that offer. There must be something of value exchanged, such as money or a promise. The legal term for this is "consideration." The contract must also be between parties that are competent and have mutual consent, meaning both are willing and able to agree on the contract. For example, a contract between minors isn't enforceable. The contract must also have a lawful object. For example, a contract between two parties to commit an illegal act isn't valid: A contract must be able to be enforceable by law.

Lawful Versus Enforceable

A contract can be lawful but not enforceable. For example , a verbal contract in real estate isn't illegal, but for it to be enforceable, it must be in writing. This is why all parties entering into a real estate contract are urged to “get it in writing"; otherwise, the agreement can't be enforced in a court of law. Another example of lawful but unenforceable contract would be an agreement between two minors. This isn't illegal; however, the agreement itself wouldn't hold up in a court of law.

Oral Contracts

Contracts made between parties can be oral as well as written and are just as valid; however, an oral contract may not be enforceable. The problem arises in the ability to prove an oral contract in a court of law. If the terms of an oral agreement can be proved in a court of law, then an oral agreement can be enforceable. This could happen if there were credible witnesses to an oral agreement.

Considerations

Although a contract can be be legally drawn between two parties who aren't attorneys, the rules of law are complex, and enforcing a contract can be difficult without all the elements of a valid contract being met. It's usually best to consult an attorney, even if a contract is drawn without one, to insure that the agreement is valid, enforceable and lawful.

References

About the Author

I graduated with a degree in Finance from Cal Poly Pomona and have held an active Brokers License for over 30 years. I also owned an accounting and tax practice for ten years. I'm an expert in all matter relating to mortgages, accounting, small businesses and taxation, and investing.