Contracts can sometimes catch out the unwary
Contracts are a part of everyday life, but they can also be a trap for the unwary – especially for purchases like mobile phones.
People enter into contracts on a daily basis - exchanging money for services like purchasing a newspaper, using public transport or having a haircut.
When we receive those services, we do not use the term "contract", but generally it is understood that a contract has been entered in to. In most situations, we are happy with the services provided, and have no cause for complaint.
The law does not generally require that a contract be in writing, although clearly if it is there should be some certainty as to what the actual contract provides and the law provides that normally a contract must be reasonable in each side’s expectation.
The law generally however does not protect contracts where one side on the face of it has achieved a better bargaining position.
In some situations, the law actually does require the contract be in writing for it to come into effect. An obvious example of this is when you purchase property.
Over many years the law has evolved to a point where there are some procedural steps to protect the interest of the parties involved.
When you purchase a home, normally contracts are exchanged, with a cooling off period of a few days. This means that once you exchange contracts you still have a short period in which you can terminate the contract should you wish to.
The cooling off periods are often also seen in consumer contracts, such as purchasing a Mobile phone.
When there is a large amount of paperwork, very few actually read or understand the contract that they have entered into, let alone know their rights.
A good example is mobile phone contracts. Most of us are only interested in signing the paperwork and getting our phone. Then if we have a problem we then look at the contract, and in some cases are disappointed as to our rights.
The Courts can be quite unforgiving when you enter into a contract, when you say that you were not aware and did not read what you were entering in to.
We all need to be careful when agreeing to contracts, given the possible consequences of fulfilling those contracts, particularly so when there is a chance that things can go wrong.