Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

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Latest post Thu, Nov 8 2012 8:36 PM by LegalSecy. 12 replies.
  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 1:17 AM

    Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    In school I remember learning that:

    a) A contract is not a signed piece of paper.  That is only "evidence" of a contract.

    b) The actual contract itself is the abstract "meeting of minds" when 2 or more parties come to a mutual agreement.

    Does anybody know of a reference for this?  I have long ago lost my college class notes and I am having trouble finding information about this concept.  I am interested in reading more about it.

    I know I'm not making it up.  I even remember the professor who lectured on it.

    Thanks in advance...

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 2:40 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    LegalSecy:
    b) The actual contract itself is the abstract "meeting of minds" when 2 or more parties come to a mutual agreement.

    A contract has several elements to it, one of them being agreement on the terms—what is sometimes phrased a "meeting of the minds" You are correct that the paper on which the terms of the contract are written is not the contract; it is evidence of it.

    Are you just wanting a reference for the idea that the writing is not itself the contract? I don't know of any cases that say that quite that directly, but a study of the contract case law as a whole will certainly lead you to that conclusion. Or were you looking for something that says what the elements of a contract are, i.e. what is a contract? That's a subject that takes up a good part of a law student's study in his/her contracts courses in the first year of law school.

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 3:51 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    I guess I'm looking for more something on the theory of contracts.

    Maybe even a textbook?

    Actually I'd probably really enjoy going to law school (ahem) but given the cost, student loans, and job challenges that new law school graduates face, that will not be in my future... 

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 7:25 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 7:47 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    Lots of good texts out there.

    Keep in mind that absent a written record it may be a most daunting task to prove the elements of a contract.  Far more than just meeting of the minds

    And 101 more wrinkles if you mean a contract which holds up in court

    My basic "contracts" text in B school was about 600 pages  and that just scratched the surface

    The concept of "consideration" is not as simple as it sounds as it covers far more than "payment"

    Of course the parties must have capacity to contract --or apparent authority --minors, imbeciles, incompetents, 

    And the substance of the deal must be legal  and the parties legally able to perform same.

    Last but not least the relevant state statutue of frauds probably requires that certain contracts must be in writing to be enforceable .



  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 8:11 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    Okay, that sounds like some light fall reading (grin).

    Hey, I'm a geek.  I like reading & hate tv.  Got to have something to do when the daylight gets short and the weather gets nasty....

    Thanks.  :)

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 10:44 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    LegalSecy:

    I guess I'm looking for more something on the theory of contracts.

    Maybe even a textbook?

    Ok, I guess that depends how deep you want to go. Many law school texts are casebooks, which present cases for the law students to analyze which are then used for discussion about the relevant contract principles. These are great for law students, but not so much for someone wanting a direct explanation of the law. For a straightforward but reasonably brief explanation of a subject law students will use what they sometimes refer to as a "hornbook." Lawyers will use treatises for a very in depth explanation with lots of citiations to the relevant law.

    For a decent, though very brief, discussion of contracts, something like West's "Contracts in a Nutshell" is a good starter. For something more substantial, "Calamari and Perillo's Contracts" (Hornbook series) was one I liked in law school. A really good treatise will give you nearly everything one might want to know, but are very expensive (into the thousands of dollars). Great for lawyers who practice in that area, but I'm guessing that's going to be a lot more than what you are looking for, so I won't recommend one of those right now.

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 11:02 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 11:37 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    Perfect -- thank you!

    And thanks Jack for the Amazon links.

    Cheers,

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 11:43 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    LegalSecy:

    In school I remember learning that:

    a) A contract is not a signed piece of paper.  That is only "evidence" of a contract.

    Not quite correct.  Some people incorrectly believe that only a signed piece of paper can be a contract.  What you're probably thinking of is the fact that a contract may exist despite the absence of a signed piece of paper.  But a signed piece of paper may, in fact, be a contract.

     

    LegalSecy:
    The actual contract itself is the abstract "meeting of minds" when 2 or more parties come to a mutual agreement.

    It is correct that a "meeting of minds" or "mutual assent" must exist for a contract to exist.

     

    LegalSecy:
    Does anybody know of a reference for this?

    Not off the top of my head, but it should be part of chapter 1 of any treatise on contract law and easily google-able.

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 11:44 AM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    The two heavy duty contracts treatises with which I'm familiar are Corbin on Contracts and Mc-somebody or other (McCormick?).

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 5:03 PM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    ca19lawyer2:
    The two heavy duty contracts treatises with which I'm familiar are Corbin on Contracts and Mc-somebody or other (McCormick?).

    Corbin's treatise is indeed a widely respected one. Farnsworth is another, and is one that I happen to have. They aren't cheap, but are excellent for practitioners. Both also, I believe, have student versions of their treatises that are not quite as comprehensive but much more affordable. 

  • Thu, Nov 8 2012 8:36 PM In reply to

    Re: Contract as "Meeting of Minds"

    Thank you!

    I happen to work in a city with a University and a Law School and a big law library so I may just need to make friends with my friendly local law librarian...

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