Contract Law 101 - An Introduction


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  • 11
    Lessons
  • 19
    Exams &
    Assignments
  • 10
    Hours
    average time
  • 1.0
    CEUs
 
 
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Course Description

Every time you trade an item, attend a sporting event or buy a soda, you enter the world of contracting. When an exchange is made willingly a contract exists. But do you know how US law interprets and enforces contracts? We've designed an introductory course to help you understand the components, processes, and legal impacts of contracts.

This 11-lesson course will take a broad, yet detailed view of contract law in the United States.

In this course we will begin by examining contract basics by explaining what a contract is and the various contract types. Key elements to most contracts are covered , along with an explanation of how US law governs contractual activity.  We'll discuss enforcement and dispute resolution options, and the three critical requirements of a contract – offer, consideration and acceptance.

We will explain who can enter a contract, how to approach negotiation and designing a written contract. This course will also examine unfair and improper contracts that could be challenged; focus on contract termination, covering breach, voiding and rescission claims; and provide details on special contract situations, including real estate, financing and social contracts. We conclude with an examination of contract law governing Internet use. When completed, each student will gain an edge when buying a car or home, getting a job, and handling everyday agreements.
What is a Contract?
 
When two or more individuals or groups agree to have an exchange of promises, a contract has been entered into. Though most people are familiar with a contract agreement between commercial entities, like an employment or a sales contract, you have technically entered into a contract when you agree to help your friend move his personal belongings in exchange for pizza and beer. A contractual agreement can be made between a plumber offering free plumbing services in exchange for free package shipping by a freight company. As long as the parties agree to the exchange being made, a contract exists.
 
A contract is a legally binding, enforceable agreement between two or more parties through which one party offers a value(either in service or through a good) in exchange for the other party's value (which could be in the form of compensation). These values can include a commitment to perform or to forbear, not perform, an act, or to enter into, or to maintain a relationship. For the contract to be enforceable, there has to be a meeting of the minds between the participants; all parties bound by the contract must fully understand and be competent to enter the agreement.
 
Contracts may be written, oral, or implied by a person's behavior. A written contract is one in which the parties sign an agreement that specifies the terms, conditions, payment, and other provisions that bind the parties together. This is the most easily enforceable contract situation. An oral contract occurs when both parties can be shown to verbally agree on a few fundamental aspects of an exchange of values. The oral contract is difficult to enforce due to the lack of evidence needed to prove wrongdoing or non-performance. An implied contract is an unwritten agreement based on the behavior of one or both parties relative to an exchange. Again, because of a lack of proof, implied contracts are difficult to enforce; although a history of behavior towards fulfilling a contract can show intent to complete the agreement. Some states require written contracts where completion or conditions extend for longer than one year, such as a real estate transaction or commercial construction projects.

The essence of a contract lies in the reciprocal or mutual obligations that each party agrees to when entering the contract. As the old saying goes, "One hand washes the other." Each participant is required, after accepting the agreement, to fulfill its requirements within the terms of the contract. In the U.S., laws mandate that these obligations fundamentally bind the contractors together. There are mechanisms available which can dissolve the agreement once the contract is accepted; however, the parties must complete their commitments or face a potential lawsuit from the party that suffers due to the unfulfilled contract.
 
The agreement is comprised of two major concepts: offer and acceptanceThe offering entity (offeror) extends a promise, and then when the receiving party (offeree) accepts the terms of the agreement, the parties are said to be under contractThe offer is a consideration by the offeror to perform, or not perform, an activity, while the acceptance by the offeree is made by expressing his assent to the contract (typically through signature for written contracts). Simply discussing the offer does not constitute a contract; there must be firm acceptance in order for the contract to be valid. 

What factors make a contract valid? A valid contract is one which can show a meeting of the minds and assent by both parties, and establishes an exchange of value. These standards exist for all contractual relationships. For example, if you are shopping for home furnishings and choose to purchase a piece that is out of stock, if the shopkeeper offers to order the item and you instruct him to do so, you have entered into a valid contract. Even if no documentation exists, you are technically obliged to purchase the item when it is delivered. Terms can be challenged, especially if they are proven to be illegal, unethical, or impossible to perform; however, the validity of the contract still stands if the two conditions (assent and value exchange) can be shown.

Every day we enter into contracts, even when performing the simplest tasks. Though most contracts are enforceable at some level, many times unfulfilled contracts get dismissed. Busy schedules and a lack of significant damages lead many people to simply abandon challenging a party who has not performed.

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  • Printable Lessons
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  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider
 
 

Course Lessons

Lesson 1. Contract Basics

Lesson 1 discusses what a contract is and how it works. We'll cover offer, acceptance, consideration, value, and other contractual fundamentals. A review of several contract types concludes this lesson. 37 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Take Poll: Contract Law
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 1 : Contract Basics

Lesson 2. Contract Elements and U.S. Law

Lesson 2 discusses the key elements that comprise a contract. We cover some common terms, the parties that create a contract, and other factors included in an agreement. 33 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 2 : Contract Elements and US Law

Lesson 3. Contract Enforcement

Lesson 3 discusses the methods of resolving disputes between parties to a contract. We cover court action and alternative dispute resolution options, such as arbitration, mediation, collaborative law, and negotiation. 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Take Poll: Enforcement
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 3 : Contract Enforcement

Lesson 4. Offer and Acceptance

Lesson 4 discusses some key details of the fundamental aspects of a contract: offer, consideration, and acceptance. We will cover valid offers and the timing of acceptance, as well as define appropriate consideration within a contract. 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 4: Offer & Acceptance

Lesson 5. Negotiating and Writing a Contract

Lesson 5 addresses a party's ability to contract and covers impairment situations. We then discuss the mindset entering negotiations. Finally the benefits of writing the contract are examined and some specific clauses are mentioned. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 5 : Negotiating and Writing a Contract

Lesson 6. Improper Contract Situations

Lesson 6 looks at improper contracting activities that can be challenged by an injured or offended party. 33 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 6 : Improper Contract Situations

Lesson 7. Unfair Contractual Conditions

Lesson 7 discusses situations where the assent to or construction of a contract can be deemed unfair. We'll cover duress, undue influence, and impairment. Clauses that can be considered unfair are covered as well. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Review Article: Duress
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 7 : Unfair Contractual Conditions

Lesson 8. Contract Termination and Completion

Lesson 8 describes the methods of canceling or ending a contract. We look at breach, estoppels, void, completion, and rescission. Damages awarded for breach of contract are also covered. 36 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 8 : Contract Termination & Completion

Lesson 9. Special Contract Situations

Lesson 9 discusses unique contracts that have specific requirements. We cover real estate agreements, credit and financing agreements, contracts with government, and labor agreements. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 9 : Special Contract Situations

Lesson 10. More Special Contract Situations

Lesson 10 examines two more unique contract situations: Intellectual Property and Social Contracts. We discuss various protections of intellectual property, and cover key terms within an IP contract. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 10 : More Special Contract Situations

Lesson 11. Contract Law and The Internet

Lesson 11 discusses contract law that governs the activities conducted through the Internet. 56 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Take Poll: E-Signing
  • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 11 : Contract Law & The Internet
  • Complete: The Final Exam
326
Total Course Points
 

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Define what a contract is.
  • Define the contract elements and how it relates to U.S. law.
  • Know contract enforcement.
  • Define the Offer and Acceptance of contracts.
  • Describe the processes of negotiating and writing a contract.
  • Know improper contract situations.
  • Know unfair contractual conditions.
  • Describe contract termination and completion.
  • Know special contract situations, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.
 

Additional Course Information

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Course Title: Contract Law 101 - An Introduction
Course Number: 8900104
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: Professional Development (Self-Paced, Online Class)
CEU Value: 1.0 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $50.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $75.00

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Student Testimonials

  • "The course was easy to follow and well explained in order for mere mortals like me to understand." -- Monique S.
  • "Instructor was motivational and encouraging." -- Paul N.
  • "I like the flow and ease of moving throuhg the lessons." -- Sabrina R.
  • "Excellent instructor. The very best. Always there for you. Thoughtful feedback. Excellent course." -- Mohammad H.
  • "Great course for anyone who needs straight to the point insight into Contract Law." -- Gilbert H.

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