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Cover Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

4. Intention to be legally bound and capacity to contract  

Robert Merkin and Séverine Saintier

Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. This chapter deals with intention to be legally bound and capacity to contract. In order to enforce any promise not contained in a deed, there must be an intention to create legal relations. This intention is traditionally determined using different presumptions for domestic and commercial agreements. In the case of domestic and social agreements, there is a presumption that there is no intention to create legal relations. In contrast, there is a presumption of an intention to create legal relations in commercial agreements. Both presumptions are capable of being rebutted on the facts, e.g. an honour clause in a commercial contract. The second part of this chapter examines capacity to contract and particularly the enforceability of contracts made by minors.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

4. Intention to be legally bound, formalities, and capacity to contract  

Robert Merkin KC, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. This chapter deals with intention to be legally bound and capacity to contract. In order to enforce any promise not contained in a deed, there must be an intention to create legal relations. This intention is traditionally determined using different presumptions for domestic and commercial agreements. In the case of domestic and social agreements, there is a presumption that there is no intention to create legal relations. In contrast, there is a presumption of an intention to create legal relations in commercial agreements. Both presumptions are capable of being rebutted on the facts, e.g. an honour clause in a commercial contract. The second part of this chapter examines capacity to contract and particularly the enforceability of contracts made by minors.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

4. Intention to be legally bound, formalities, and capacity to contract  

Robert Merkin, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Course-focused and comprehensive, Poole’s Textbook on Contract Law provides an accessible overview of the key areas on the law curriculum. This chapter examines the requirement that there must be an intention to create legal relations and specific requirements of form, such as writing, for an agreement to be enforceable as a legally binding contract. Traditionally, this intention to create legal relations is determined objectively using two presumptions that can be rebutted on the evidence. First, it is presumed that there was no intention to be legally bound in the context of social or domestic agreements. Secondly, it is presumed that the parties to commercial agreements intended to be legally bound unless there are clear words indicating the opposite, such as the existence of an honour clause. In addition, some contracts require particular formalities to be binding. The chapter outlines some examples of these and discusses the consequences of non-compliance with the formality requirements. It also considers the capacity rules in contract (i.e. a party’s ability in law to contract) and the effect of incapacity on a contract, focusing on contracts made by minors (persons below 18 years old). The chapter concludes by discussing electronic signatures and the implications of e-commerce for formality requirements in contracts.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

4. Intention to be legally bound, formalities, and capacity to contract  

Robert Merkin KC, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Course-focused and comprehensive, Poole’s Textbook on Contract Law provides an accessible overview of the key areas of the law curriculum. This chapter examines the requirement that there must be an intention to create legal relations and specific requirements of form, such as writing, for an agreement to be enforceable as a legally binding contract. Traditionally, this intention to create legal relations is determined objectively using two presumptions that can be rebutted on the evidence. First, it is presumed that there was no intention to be legally bound in the context of social or domestic agreements. Secondly, it is presumed that the parties to commercial agreements intended to be legally bound unless there are clear words indicating the opposite, such as the existence of an honour clause. In addition, some contracts require particular formalities to be binding. The chapter outlines some examples of these and discusses the consequences of non-compliance with the formality requirements. It also considers the capacity rules in contract (i.e. a party’s ability in law to contract) and the effect of incapacity on a contract, focusing on contracts made by minors (persons below 18 years old). The chapter concludes by discussing electronic signatures and the implications of e-commerce for formality requirements in contracts.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

15. Remedies providing for specific relief and restitutionary remedies  

Robert Merkin KC, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Course-focused and comprehensive, Poole’s Textbook on Contract Law provides an accessible overview of the key areas of the law curriculum. Equitable remedies that provide for specific relief refer to remedies for breach of contract which compel actual performance, rather than simply compensating for loss caused by breach. Compulsion of performance may take the form of claiming an agreed sum, a claim seeking specific performance, or a claim seeking an injunction. The claim or action for an agreed sum gives effect to the claimant’s performance interest by ordering the party in breach to pay the liquidated sum (debt), his agreed performance under the contract. The chapter examines the remedy of specific performance as a court order that compels actual performance of agreed obligations (other than payment of the price). As an equitable remedy it is available at the discretion of the court, but only when damages would be an inadequate remedy. This chapter also examines remedies providing for specific relief and restitutionary remedies, the latter of which refer to recovery based on failure of consideration and quantum meruit. Finally, the chapter examines the availability of specific compensatory remedies in instances where there is no financial loss, namely the exceptional remedy of an account of profit or the remedy of ‘negotiating damages’—and their relationship.