Legal-Ease: Getting out of a contract

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People sometimes change their mind after agreeing to business contracts. The greater (in size, effect or monetary value), the greater the potential remorse. So, most people should take their time in making decisions and concluding contracts, especially those who are larger than the size these people have experience with.

Some purchases (such as a refinanced mortgage) have a legally mandated “cooling off” period, but most contracts are blocked and binding at the time the contracts are entered into.

Nevertheless, once a contract is made (in writing for some things, including most real estate and verbally for most other contracts), there are only a few ways to cancel or renegotiate the contract. ” OK “. There are five main arguments often used to try to cancel a previously agreed deal. However, none of the five arguments is particularly convincing.

First, some people say they did not understand the contract they signed. Almost everyone who signs a contract is held responsible for knowing the content of the contract that has been signed. A contract is not void simply because a person states that they were misled into signing a contract different from what the person thought / understood the contract if they could have known the truth by reading the contract. But this argument sometimes works in the context of take it or leave it (membership) contracts, such as those signed under a new mobile phone contract.

Second, some people say that the other person on a contract didn’t do what that person was supposed to do, so I shouldn’t have to do what I was supposed to do. This argument usually only works in situations where the other person’s non-performance is plain and obvious. The nuances are interpreted in favor of the enforceability of the contract.

Third, some people claim that a contract is not a contract but rather a promise to give a gift. A promise to give something is not enforceable if there is no reciprocal payment / action / inaction on the part of the recipient of the gift. However, the reciprocal element can be tiny. If I tell my nephew that he will get a gift if my nephew gets good grades, my nephew’s good grades make that promise a contract, not a voidable gift.

Fourth, some people say they should walk away from a deal if it is incredibly one-sided or unfair. This is often characterized by saying that a contract was so absurd that it shocks the conscience. For that argument to apply, the deal has to be shocking the scale of a retiree swapping millions of dollars in savings to lease a Chevrolet for a week.

The fifth argument is “undue influence”. The legal standard for undue influence to end / change a contract is literally (not figuratively) a gun to your head. If you can walk away, no matter how humiliating, there is hardly ever any undue influence. Unfortunately, some poor and elderly people may be more prone to being unduly influenced if they reasonably and genuinely believe that no agreement will lead to homelessness / death.

Lee R. Schroeder is a Licensed Ohio Lawyer with Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning, and agriculture in Northwestern Ohio. He can be reached at Lee@LeeSchroeder.com or 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed lawyer of your choice based on the specific facts and circumstances you are facing.


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