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Chapter

Cover Anson's Law of Contract

3. Form  

Jack Beatson, Andrew Burrows, and John Cartwright

English law recognizes only two kinds of contract: the contract made by deed, and the simple contract. A contract made by deed derives its validity solely from the form in which it is expressed. A simple contract as a general rule need not be made in any special form, but requires the presence of consideration, which broadly means that something must be given in exchange for a promise. This chapter examines contracts by deed and (simple) contracts for which writing is required.

Chapter

Cover JC Smith's The Law of Contract

11. Identifying the terms of a contract  

This chapter discusses the terms of a contract. It first examines the distinction between a ‘term’ and a ‘representation’, before considering how those terms can be incorporated into a contract. It then discusses the nature of the contract being examined—even if the relevant term is not to be found in the ‘main’ contract, it may be found in a ‘collateral’, or ancillary, contract. Finally, the chapter addresses the ‘parol evidence rule’, which essentially states that where there is a written contract, extrinsic evidence cannot be used to establish other terms. This rule is riddled with exceptions and often dismissed, although it is suggested that it should not be entirely discarded.

Chapter

Cover Contract Law

6. Assembling the contract  

Representations, terms, and incorporation

This chapter considers how the courts determine what the terms of the contract are, both where the contract is in writing and where it is oral. It first examines unwritten contracts, focusing on oral negotiations and how the courts identify which statements, out of everything the parties said and did, were intended to have contractual force. It then discusses three categories of statements made by the parties: statements that are ‘mere puff’, statements that are factual ‘representations’, and statements that are intended to be contractual terms. It also describes written documents, and more specifically what impact the existence of a written contract has on other terms which a party argues were agreed, but which were not written down in the contract. The chapter concludes by looking at incorporation and the criteria the law sets for holding that external terms were validly incorporated into a contract.

Chapter

Cover Complete Contract Law

6. The Terms of the Contract  

This chapter focuses on the terms of the contract. Such terms can be expressed in writing or in oral statements. In addition, some terms can be implied into a contract by legislation or the courts. As a result, contracts can be in the form of a written document, an oral agreement, or even a combination of written terms and oral statements and all three can contain implied terms. The chapter then looks at how terms can be implied into contracts. It also explores the law on express terms. In the context of what has been agreed, there are two main types of dispute. One type of dispute relates to the existence of a term that a party claims has been breached. The other type of dispute over what has been agreed relates to the meaning of the terms. In such cases, the meaning of the disputed term will determine whether it has been breached. That requires the courts to interpret the term to reflect the parties’ apparent intentions.

Chapter

Cover Employment Law

7. Contractual employment rights  

This chapter introduces the basic principles of the law of contract as they apply to contracts of employment. It focuses on three issues in particular. First we look at how contracts are formed in the context of an employment relationship and at the conditions that need to be in place if a contract of employment is to be enforceable in a court. We then go on to discuss how employers can go about lawfully varying the terms of contracts by using flexibility clauses and other approaches. Finally we discuss the need to provide employees with written particulars of their employment soon after they start working in a new job.

Chapter

Cover Selwyn's Law of Employment

17. Unfair Dismissal  

The statutory provisions relating to unfair dismissal are found in ss 94–107 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This chapter looks at what amounts to a dismissal and the ways in which a dismissal may take place, covering expiry of a fixed-term contract, resignation and constructive dismissal, and frustration of the contract. It also discusses the categories of employees which are not protected by the unfair dismissal provisions of ERA; the termination of the contract; fair and unfair dismissal; fair reasons for dismissal and some other substantial reason; written reasons for dismissal; and remedies for unfair dismissal such as reinstatement, re-engagement, and compensation, as well as showing how such compensation is to be calculated.

Chapter

Cover Selwyn's Law of Employment

3. The Formation of a Contract of Employment  

This chapter discusses how an employment contract is formed, and it then looks at the terms and conditions of employment and how these terms are to be interpreted. The types of terms discussed include express terms, implied terms, statutory terms, collective agreements and how such collective terms are incorporated, and looks at custom as a source of employment terms and works and staff rules. The chapter also considers other aspects of the contract of employment such as disciplinary and grievance procedures, job descriptions, written particulars of the contract of employment, the right to itemised pay statements, variation of contractual terms, and an overview of occupational pension schemes.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

5. Content of the contract and principles of interpretation  

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 explores how the terms of the parties’ agreement (that is, the contractual promise to be performed) are identified and how the courts interpret the meaning of those terms. It considers the status of statements made prior to the conclusion of the contract (as terms or representations) and why this matters. The parol evidence rule applies where the contract is written and provides that the writing represents the entire contract. This definition is flawed, however, because it allows the rule to be sidestepped by defining the contract as partly written and partly oral. Alternatively, an oral term can take effect as a collateral contract, which is separate to any written contract to which the parol evidence rule applies. The effect of the parol evidence rules can be achieved by incorporating an entire agreement clause. This chapter also considers the effect and impact of a no oral modification clause (or NOM). This chapter examines methods of achieving incorporation of terms such as signature, reasonable notice (or a higher standard of notice if the term is onerous or unusual), consistent course of dealing and common knowledge of the parties. In addition to the express terms, there may be terms implied by custom, by courts or by statute. Finally, the chapter considers the principles on which contracts are interpreted including the relevance, or otherwise, of pre-contractual negotiations.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

5. Content of the contract and principles of interpretation  

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 explores how the terms of the parties’ agreement (that is, the contractual promise to be performed) are identified and how the courts interpret the meaning of those terms. It considers the status of statements made prior to the conclusion of the contract (as terms or representations) and why this matters. The parol evidence rule applies where the contract is written and provides that the writing represents the entire contract. This definition is flawed, however, because it allows the rule to be sidestepped by defining the contract as partly written and partly oral. Alternatively, an oral term can take effect as a collateral contract, which is separate to any written contract to which the parol evidence rule applies. The effect of the parol evidence rules can be achieved by incorporating an entire agreement clause. This chapter also considers the effect and impact of a no oral modification clause (or NOM). This chapter examines methods of achieving incorporation of terms such as signature, reasonable notice (or a higher standard of notice if the term is onerous or unusual), consistent course of dealing and common knowledge of the parties. In addition to the express terms, there may be terms implied by custom, by courts or by statute. Finally, the chapter considers the principles on which contracts are interpreted including the relevance, or otherwise, of pre-contractual negotiations.