In Ohio, for a contract to be legally enforceable, certain elements—like a valid offer, acceptance, and a meeting of the minds—must be present within the document or verbal agreement.
These elements help ensure the enforceability of the contract and confirm the agreement is valid and binding under the law.
In this post, the experienced Ohio contract attorneys at Bensinger Legal Services will help you understand the basics of what makes an enforceable contract under Ohio law.
We will also provide some examples of enforceable vs. unenforceable contracts and explain why creating enforceable contracts is important for your business. For assistance, please call (419) 455-1410 or send an online message today.
Elements of a Legally Enforceable Contract in Ohio
For a contract to be legally enforceable in Ohio, certain elements must be met. While not every contract will have a perfect example of each element, these basic terms must be present for a contract to be enforceable.
Those terms include:
- A clear offer and acceptance;
- Consideration, or each party providing something of value to “seal the deal”;
- A legal—not illegal—purpose;
- Capacity of the parties to enter into a contract; and
- Meeting of the minds about the contract’s terms.
Depending on the subject matter of the contract, it may also need to be in writing.
Inexperienced contract drafters may leave out important terms like specifying certain conditions or the type of consideration.
A contract law attorney can help ensure that your business has specific and enforceable contracts that include necessary terms under Ohio law. Contact Bensinger Legal Services today to help your business draft contracts.
What Makes a Contract Unenforceable?
A contract may be unenforceable if it lacks certain key elements. For example, under Ohio law, a contract that provides for the sale of real estate must be in writing.
If your contract for the sale of your house is based on a verbal promise and a handshake, then it is unlikely to be enforceable.
Some of the key ways a contract can be unenforceable in Ohio include:
- Lack of capacity to enter into a contract, like being a minor;
- Contract is for an illegal purpose;
- Contract is based on fraud;
- One party exerted undue influence or put the other party under duress to make the deal;
- Material mistake about the subject or terms of the contract;
- Impossibility, like if goods are destroyed before they can be delivered;
- Contracts that shock the conscience or are extremely one-sided;
- Failure to comply with the Statute of Frauds, a law that requires certain contracts to be in writing;
- Failure to follow contract formalities, like having a document notarized; and
- Lack of consideration.
In some situations, a contract may also be made unenforceable where one party changes the terms of the contract without the other party’s consent.
In that case, any modified terms may be unenforceable. If you are concerned about the validity or enforceability of a contract, an experienced contract law attorney can help you avoid issues of contract failure.
Examples of Enforceable Contracts vs. Unenforceable Contracts
We have explained the basics of contract law, but you may still wonder: what makes an enforceable contract under Ohio law?
Jane wants to sell her car to Henry, which Henry wants to buy for $5,000. They draft and sign a written agreement that outlines the terms of the sale.
In completion of the contract promise, Jane delivers her car to Henry on the date specified in the contract, and Henry pays the agreed-upon amount of $5,000.
This contract likely complies with Ohio contract law because it has an offer, acceptance, consideration, terms of the contract, meeting of the minds about the contract’s subject matter, and is reasonably specific.
We later find out that Henry is only 16 years old and has taken money from his savings account to pay for Jane’s car. Henry’s mother is furious and demands the $5,000 back. She seeks to void the contract with Jane because Henry lacked the capacity to make the deal.
This contract is likely unenforceable because Henry lacked the ability to consent to the contract due to his age.
Remember that contract enforceability can depend on various factors, including jurisdiction, specifics of the situation, and local laws.
If you have concerns about a contract, it is best to consult with an Ohio contract law attorney to obtain accurate guidance.
How Bensinger Legal Services Can Help You with Your Contracts
At Bensinger Legal Services, our knowledgeable legal team takes a three-step approach to contract law. We know that creation, review, and enforcement are all essential parts of the process.