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When Does a Contract Starts

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When Does a Contract Starts

Post  Rutaihwa on Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:39 pm

I come across that topic from the web site answered by Thomas Swartz Attorney. This topic also can be share by Forumn members
I signed the contract "selling" him my portion of the business on Sept 20 of last year. I did not sign it with him as a witness and I did not see him sign it at all either. Next to my signature on the contract is the date I signed, there is no date next to his. I did receive my copy of the signed contract on October 5th. When does the contract "start"?

I feel that since I did not receive a copy for three weeks, that the contract and the agreements in it are not in effect until both parties have signed copies.


It is not important to a contract that the parties to the contract witness each other place their signatures on a written contract. And the question - "When does the contract "start"?" is perhaps not the correct phrasing that the law would ask.

Under formal contract theory, every contract must have six elements: an offer, an acceptance, consideration [something of value that each party exchanges], a meeting of the minds as to the terms of the contract, capacity and legality. [Capacity and legality do not appear to come into play in your situation]. The key elements in your situation are the offer and acceptance.

A contract is said to come into existence when acceptance of an offer has been communicated to the offeror by the offeree. In your situation, from what you have written, it appears that your former business partner offered to purchase your portion of the business, the both of you came to a meeting of the minds by placing the terms of the contract in written terms, and you accepted by placing your signature on the written contract. In addition, it appears that you communicated your acceptance by delivering a copy of the written contract with your signature to your former business partner.

The fact that your business partner placed his signature on the contract also indicates that there was an acceptance on his part. The fact that the date is not next to his signature is not critical. When it comes to the enforcement of contracts, if the contract is signed by the party against whom enforcement is sought, then enforcement can be had against that party. Thus, since your signature is full and complete on the contract, it would appear to me that your former business partner would be able to enforce it against you if he chose to do so. The fact that it took three weeks for both of you to have signed contracts in their possessions is not important. Again, the contract comes into being when the offeree communicates acceptance to the offeror.

As indicated, the question of when a contract "starts" may not exactly be the right question to be asking. Rather, it is more important to know when you are obligated to perform your portion of the contract, and this of course would be determined by the terms of the contract. For instance - when does the contract indicate that you must deliver possession of the business to your former business parter, and when must the former business partner make payment.

I know that this may not be a desirable answer for you, but from what you have indicated, I believe the business partner would be able to enforce the contract against you if he chose to do so.

Good luck to you.



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