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St. Louis Attorney Joseph Bante had his sights on pursuing criminal law after passing the Bar examinations in both Missouri and Illinois. A few years passed and Joe realized he had an opportunity to make a legal go of it in business law. After all, many of his high school and college friends started small businesses ranging from restaurants to landscaping companies. Joe worked a few criminal cases, but his bread and butter became business law, specifically business contracts.
“The people I networked with from school that started businesses needed a lawyer to examine business contracts with a fine tooth comb. I found a legal niche that keeps me vey busy and ensures my clients understand and most important, comply with every agreed upon item listed in a business contract.”
Any time a business agrees to take action in the form of making a payment for anything that possesses value, the business owner enters into a legally binding agreement called a contract. A vast majority of purchase orders, bills of sale, employment agreements, and other common types of transactions full under the legal framework of an enforceable contract.
Business Contract Defined
A business contract represents an agreement between two or more parties that is enforced under the legal system. Although “Party” can mean any legal entity, it usually refers to either a company or individual.
Virtually every business contract contains the following elements:
- Every party involved in a business contract must be mentally competent
- Mutual agreement by every party entering into a business contract
Why a Written Business Contract Matters
It used to be that a simple handshake cemented a business deal and hence, represented a business contract. Now, you should cover your legal back by insisting every business contract you enter is in writing and includes the signatures of all parties involved in the contract. State law varies in regards to the use of written contracts, but as Joe Bante pointed out, you have a much stronger case in court if you supply evidence of a written contract. Real estate transfers and sales of products valued more than $500, as well as contracts that need more than one year to execute, require written contracts.
The Laws that Govern Contracts
Each of the 50 states has laws that specifically deal with written business contracts. Most business contracts fall under state common law, such as leases, employment agreements, and general business agreements. Common law represents an ever-changing set of laws mandated by judges. Business contracts not covered by common law fall under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which a collection of legal standards that apply to commercial activities. UCC guidelines are part of state laws that pertains to the sale of goods.
Find a Licensed Attorney for Business Contracts
Although you save money in the short run by writing your own business contracts, Bante says a licensed business law attorney protects you against frivolous lawsuits. You can end paying more later by writing your own business contracts in the form of court costs and worse, a judgment against your business. A licensed business law attorney knows when a party has breached a contract, as well as informs you about the most effective way to ensure a business contract is enforced. Sometimes, enforcing a business contract costs small businesses operators more money than the money lost from a business contract violation.
Contact a licensed business law attorney in your area today to get the professional legal advice you need for business contracts. Your state Bar offers a list of qualified attorneys to help you navigate the choppy legal waters of business agreements.