agreement having a lawful object entered into voluntarily by multiple parties (may be explicitly written or oral)
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In law, a contract (or informally known as an agreement in some jurisdictions) is an agreement having a lawful object entered into voluntarily by two or more parties, each of whom intends to create one or more legal obligations between them. The elements of a contract are "offer" and "acceptance" by "competent persons" having legal capacity who exchange "consideration" to create "mutuality of obligation." Put simply, a contract is a legally enforceable promise or undertaking that something will or will not occur.

There are very few ways to legally break a contract unilaterally. ~ William Davis

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  • The law has outgrown its primitive stage of formalism when the precise word was the sovereign talisman, and every slip was fatal. It takes a broader view to-day. A promise may be lacking, and yet the whole writing may be "instinct with an obligation," imperfectly expressed. If that is so, there is a contract.
  • A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.
    • Attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, this quote is actually a misreporting of an actual quote praising the trustworthiness of a colleague: "His verbal contract is worth more than the paper it's written on". The identity of the colleague is variously reported as Joseph M. Schenk in Paul F. Boller, John George, They Never Said It (1990), p. 42, or as Joseph L. Mankiewicz in Carol Easton, The Search for Sam Goldwyn (1976). Goldwyn himself was reportedly aware of - and pleased by - the misattribution.
  • The movement of progressive societies has hitherto been a movement from Status to Contract.
    • Sir Henry James Sumner Maine, Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society and its Relation to Modern Ideas (2000; reprint of 1861 ed.), p. 100.
  • Men keep their agreements when it is an advantage to both parties not to break them; and I shall so frame my laws that it will be evident to the Athenians that it will be for their interest to observe them.
    • Solon, reported in George Shelley Hughs, Ancient Civilizations (1896), p. 596.
  • There is grim irony in speaking of the freedom of contract of those who, because of their economic necessities, give their service for less than is needful to keep body and soul together.
    • Harlan F. Stone, Morehead v. N.Y. ex rel. Tipaldo, 298 U.S. 587, 632 (1936).
  • The primary office and purpose of a bill of lading, although by mercantile law and usage it is a symbol of the right of property in the goods, is to express the terms of the contract between the shipper and the shipowner.
    • Lord Selborne, L.C., Glyn, Mills & Co. v. East and West India Dock Co. (1882), 7 App. Cas. 596; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 19.
  • There is no darker page in the annals of English jurisprudence than that which contains the law relating to bills of sale, for, recent as it is, it is illogical, uncertain, and fuller of doubts and difficulties than any other part of our law.
    • Cave, J., In re Yarrow Bank (1889), L. J. R. 59 Q. B. D. 20; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 19.
Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 47-48.
  • Judicial decision on one contract can rarely help us to the understanding of another.
    • Lord O'Hagan, Rhodes v. Forwood (1876), L. R. 1 Ap. Ca. 275.
  • There is a great principle which I think ought to be adhered to by this Court, and by every Court where it can possibly do so; that is to say, that a man shall abide by his contracts, and that a man's contracts should be enforced as against him.
    • Romer, J., Biggs v. Hoddinott, Hoddinott v. Biggs (1898), L. R. 2 C. D. [1898], p. 313.
  • As to the hardships upon foreigners, if they enter into contracts in England, and apply to our Courts of judicature to enforce a performance of them, they must submit themselves to be judged by the laws of this kingdom, and to our exposition of them.
  • It is to be remembered that contracts in restraint of trade are in themselves, if nothing more appears to show them reasonable, bad in the eye of the law.
  • A contract requires two parties to it, and a man in one character can, with difficulty, contract with himself in another character.
    • Sir John Rornilly, M.R., Collinson v. Lister (1855), 20 Beav. 370; 24 L.J. Ch. 766.
  • It seems to me that whenever circumstances arise in the ordinary business of life in which, if two persons were ordinarily honest and careful, the one of them would make a promise to the other, it may properly be inferred that both of them understood that such a promise was given and accepted.

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