Are all contracts the same?

Not all contracts are created equal.  Contracts can be divided into different classifications based on their characteristics.

Express vs. Implied

  • Express – assent is manifested (or shown) directly
  • Implied – assent is implied from the conduct of the parties

Unilateral vs. Bilateral

  • Unilateral – Only one of the parties make a promise; a promise for an act or forbearance to act
  • Bilateral – both parties are both a promisor and a promisee; a promise for a promise

Valid, Void, Voidable & Unenforceable

  • Valid – meets all the requirements of a binding contract (mutual assent, consideration, legality, capacity)
  • Void – no contract at all; without legal effect (e.g. adjudicated incompetent person attempts to contract)
  • Voidable – contract capable of being made void, voidable by one party (e.g. contracts with minors)
  • Unenforceable – a contract for the breach of which the law provides no remedy (e.g. contracts violating the statute of frauds)

Executed vs. Executory

  • Executed – fully performed by all the parties
  • Executory – “unperformed”, one or more promises by any party to the contract are yet unperformed

Knowing which type of contract is involved in your case can help you to determine if a contract is enforceable, when would be the right time to file suit, as well as other important issues which affect your legal rights under the contract.


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