Business Law, It Depends

May 25

The second lecture for Business Law was interesting. It felt more like a round table discussion and was infused with a lot of back and forth, including both the lecturer and the students. It Depends One interesting comment the teacher made about half way through with respect to law was “It Depends”. In other words, is someone guilty or not? It depends. Is someone liable? It depends. On what does it depend? A host of things, including the context, the timing, the judge or jury. Perhaps most interesting was the discussion of a Reasonable Person. So much of law comes back to what a reasonable person would or would not do. However, there isn’t a definition of a reasonable person. So law is left to the spectrum of human experience and emotion to weigh in on guilt or innocence. Lord Goddard C.J.R. in Regina v. McCarthy, 2 Q.B. 105 (1954) (copied from Cheesman) stated: No court has ever given, nor do we think ever can give, a definition of what constitutes a reasonable or an average man. Certainly there are mechanisms to account for aberrations, such as the option for a judge to recuse himself. Jury selection plays a part. In those few cases where someone feels there has been a miscarriage of justice, the appeals process is available to seek remedy. So, then next time you get caught up in the letter of the law and think you have a sure thing figured out, just remember, it...

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Elements of a Contract

May 17

The first class session of my Business Law class this semester focused on four aspects that make up a contract. Without all four elements, there is no contract. With all four in place, a contract is valid. The four elements are: Agreement Consideration Capacity Lawful object Agreement Agreement refers to the understanding between the parties to the contract about what the contract means. This includes the nature and details of a promise or act. In a bilateral contract the agreement is made up of a promise for a promise. A unilateral contract involves a promise for an act. Consideration Consideration is anything of legal value that is in play for the contract. This may include money or other assets. It may also be something else that each party to the contract assigns value to, regardless of it’s monetary value. In some cases promissory estoppel is used in place of consideration. Capacity Capacity refers to the ability of a party to the contract to understand and commit to its terms. Some things that affect capacity include age, state of mind and even blood alcohol level. Contracts entered into by parties that have impaired capacity may be considered voidable or even void. Lawful object A contract must have a Lawful object. This means the contract cannot have an end that is illegal or prohibited. If a contract is entered into which has an illegal object, it is unenforceable. This may include crimes and fraud. Uniform Commercial Code The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC or U.C.C.) is a collection of recommendations or ideals that are generally agreed upon and can be used in the creation of a contract. The UCC may vary from state to state and is not strictly a law in all places. The UCC deals most specifically with Goods. Timing Timing plays several roles in contract law. May contracts become void after a certain amount of time has elapsed. This is one way to terminate a contract. Timing also is crucial to the establishment of a contract. The effects of timing in terms of the offer being accepted, rejected or a counter offer being made were complicated in the past when the primary communication mechanism was traditional mail. Today, with email and other forms...

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