Store-bought contracts can be slippery

Sometimes people get in a legal dispute who say they used a “standard contract” from a book they bought.  Because they used a form contract from a published book, they expect the contract to be authoritative and adequate.  If the contract turns out to be inadequate, these people are sometimes surprised – and always disappointed – that the form contract they used has not served them well.

I have seen contracts for leases – or sales – of real property from published books that were ambiguous.  When people want to enforce such a contract, they might have a problem, because at trial they will be asking the judge to compel the other side to perform according to the contract.  If the contract isn’t clear, then nobody’s sure what the other side should do, or what they agreed to.  It may then be possible for the other side to break the contract altogether.

It is impossible to evaluate whether all of the contracts from printed sources are adequate.  Each contract must be separately evaluated to tell whether it is adequate.

Some prepared sources claim to follow California law.  But others may not.  The problem is that the California state Legislature regularly passes new laws. If a prepared contract does not follow California law, then it is possible that portions of the contract might be void or unenforceable.  If a prepared contract does follow California law, then it is important to know whether the contract has incorporated legal updates.

The moral to the story?  Enter a contract with care.  And have a good attorney review it.

Copyright 2023 ROBERT B. JACOBS