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法律合同的构成要件

What Constitutes a Legal Contract?
法律合同的构成要件
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2019-07-27 22:44
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法律合同的构成要件

A contract is a legally enforceable agreement signed between two or more parties. It may be oral or written. A contract is essentially a set of promises. Typically, each party promises to do something for the other in exchange for a benefit.

合同是双方或多方之间签订的具有法律效力的协议。合同既可口头,也可书面。合同本质上是一系列承诺。通常,各方都承诺为对方做事以换取利益。

Required Characteristics 

必要特征

To constitute a legal contract, an agreement must have all of the following 5 characteristics:

协议若要成为法律合同,以下五项特征须皆具备:

  • Legal purpose. A contract must have a legal purpose to be enforceable. For example, Steve hires Paul to kill Susan. Steve drafts an agreement outlining Paul's responsibilities, namely to acquire a gun and shoot Susan in the head. The agreement also specifies the amount Steve will pay Paul once Susan is dead. A contract of murder for hire is illegal. If Paul fails to fulfill his obligations under the agreement, Steve will have no recourse against Paul. The agreement Steve has drafted is unenforceable.
  • Mutual Agreement. All parties to the contract must have reached a "meeting of the minds." That is, one party must have extended an offer to which the other parties have agreed. For example, Jim signs a contract with Tom's Tree Trimming. The contract outlines the scope of the work Tom will perform on Jim's property. Jim and Tom have a mutual agreement regarding the work that will be done.
  • Consideration. Each party to the contract must agree to give up something of value in exchange for a benefit. For example, you hire an independent contractor to repave your driveway. You and the paving contractor sign an agreement in which you promise to pay a sum of money in exchange for the paving work. Both you and the contractor have agreed to give up something of value. You have agreed to pay money, and the contractor has agreed to perform the paving work.
  • Competent Parties. The parties to a contract must be competent. That is, they must be of sound mind, of legal age, and unencumbered by drugs or alcohol. If you enter into a contract with a minor or an insane person, the contract will not be enforced.
  • Genuine Assent. All parties must engage in the agreement freely. A contract may not be enforced if mistakes have been made by one or more parties. Likewise, a contract may be voided if one party has committed fraud or exerted undue influence over another. For example, you sign a contract in which you agree to sell your house to your next-door neighbor for $1. When you signed the contract, your neighbor was pointing a gun at your head. Clearly, you made the agreement under duress, so the contract is not valid.
  • 合法的目的。合同必须具有合法的目的才可强制执行。例如,史蒂夫雇保罗杀害苏珊。史蒂夫起草了一份协议,概述保罗的职责,即弄到一把枪朝苏珊的头部射击。协议还规定了一旦苏珊死亡史蒂夫将向保罗支付的金额。雇佣凶杀合同是违法的。如果保罗未能履行其在协议项下的义务,史蒂夫将对保罗无追索权。史蒂夫起草的协议是不可强制执行的。
  • 相互同意。合同各方必须达成“合意”。也就是说,一方提出的要约, 其他方必然已经同意。例如,吉姆和汤姆就树木修剪签订一份合同, 合同概述了汤姆在吉姆的林地将进行工作的范围。就将要进行的工作,吉姆和汤姆已经相互同意。
  • 对价。合同的每一方都必须同意放弃有价值的东西以换取利益。例如,你雇用独立的承包商来重新铺设车道。你和铺路承包商签署一份协议,在协议中,你承诺支付一笔钱以换取铺路工作。你和承包商都已同意放弃有价值的东西。你已同意支付款项,而承包商也已同意进行铺路工作。
  • 各方有行为能力。合同的各方必须具备行为能力。也就是说,他们必须具有健全的心智,达到法定年龄,而且没有服用毒品或酒精。若你与未成年人或精神病人订立合同,则合同将不可强制执行。
  • 真正的同意(有行为能力的各方完全同意)。各方必须自由地参与协议。一方或多方犯有过错的,合同不得强制执行。同样, 一方犯有欺诈行为或对另一方施加不当影响的,则合同无效。例如,你签订一份合同,你同意以1美元的价格把房子卖给隔壁邻居。当你签合同时,你的邻居用枪指着你的头。很明显,你是在胁迫下达成协议的,因此, 合同是无效的。
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