Contracts & Agreements Lawyer in Toronto, Ontario
Doing business involves entering into agreements and contracts that bind all parties to certain obligations. For instance, you may need a supply of goods for your hardware store, so you make ties with suppliers and sign contracts for the delivery of what you need in exchange for cash payment. Or, you need an accountant to handle your bookkeeping and taxes for your enterprise, so you create and sign another contract.
But what happens if the other party doesn’t live up to what you believe are the terms of the contract? How do you enforce it? There is, of course, the ultimate recourse to litigation, but if the contract was never written out, or if it was written but contained ambiguities, you may have a hard time proving your case in court.
Creating a legally-binding and non-ambiguous contract is your best shield against disputes and breaches, and putting it down in writing is another protection against courtroom challenges that can turn against you.
If your business is located in or around Toronto, Ontario, contact Matthew R Harris Law P.C. for help in drafting ironclad contracts that will protect your interests and provide the best shield against misunderstandings that can come back to haunt you.
Lawyer Matthew R. Harris and his team are dedicated to helping businesses handle all their legal obligations and challenges. They also proudly serve clients in Hamilton, London, and Ottawa.
Elements of a Valid Contract
A contract in Canada can be written or oral, but oral contracts, as previously mentioned, can be subject to interpretation by the parties involved in them. A written contract is the most advisable course to take, and it should be so written that the obligations and responsibilities of all parties subject to the document are clear and unambiguous. For this reason, it is always best to have a contract reviewed, if not written, by a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer.
According to Canadian law, a contract must have four elements:
LEGALITY: A contract must be for services or performances that are legal. That is, for instance, you cannot create a contract to buy or sell narcotics.
MUTUAL AGREEMENT: Also known as offer and acceptance, a contract begins with one party making an offer and the other party accepting. For instance, Company A offers to buy 200 microchips each week from Company B for X amount of dollars, and Company B accepts.
CONSIDERATION: This refers to what the entity making the offer will provide in return, often cash, but it could also be other considerations, such as providing services or an exchange of goods.
CAPACITY: The parties entering into the contract should be of sound mind. If one party is high or intoxicated at the time of signing, the contract can be held invalid; likewise, if the party was determined to be mentally incapable at the time of signing.
It’s also important that both parties be of majority age. A minor cannot be obligated under a contract, but if the other party is an adult, the adult will be obligated to the minor.
Consumer Protection Act
The Consumer Protection Act in Ontario requires that all agreements and contracts with consumers be in writing if they involve goods or services valued at $50 or more, or if they are future performance agreements, or if they are personal development services agreements. The latter includes fitness programs, modeling and talent services, and dance, martial arts, and other instructional regimens.
Other types of contracts covered by the Consumer Protection Act include motor vehicle repair agreements, Internet agreements, and remote agreements.
The act also requires that any reasonable ambiguity in a consumer agreement must be interpreted in favor of the consumer.
Clarity and Unambiguity in Contracts
If a contract goes before a court, when the contract is subject to more than one interpretation, the party that did not write the contract is entitled to its own reasonable interpretation under the legal principle known as contra proferentem.
On the other hand, when the contract is clear and unambiguous, no evidence can be admitted that contradicts the expressed, clear terms of the contract. This is known as the “parol evidence rule.”
Contracts and Agreements Lawyer Serving Toronto, Ontario
The stakes can be high when you enter into a contract or agreement, especially if you leave details out or word things such that they are open to more than one interpretation. Courts will look at the clean and plain meaning of the language being used in your agreement if you end up with a contractual dispute. Your contracts and agreements should always be reviewed or written by an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer. In Toronto, rely on the legal team at Matthew R Harris Law P.C. to help you create unambiguous agreements and contracts that will protect you and all involved.