What Makes a Contract Enforceable?

contract signing

With increasing channels of communication, there have never been more ways to potentially form a contract. Traditional contracts drawn up by a Seattle business attorney like the lawyers at Frey Buck are still the bread and butter. However, as long as there are an offer and an acceptance, the new breed of contracts could just as easily be text messages.

But are all exchanges enforceable? An offer and acceptance will technically form an agreement, but if said agreement is not enforceable under the law, the point is moot. So how do you know whether a contract is enforceable under the law? Let the experienced Seattle business attorneys of Frey Buck outline a few key points.

Contract Basics

So again, what exactly is a contract? In simplest terms, a contract constitutes an agreement between at least two parties that outlines a desire to exchange items of value – whether goods or services. As mentioned above, all that is generally required is agreement on the terms, so a contract could be written on notarial stationery or a text message. 

Yet, it can be even simpler. Contracts do not necessarily have to be in writing. It differs between the states, but in most states oral agreements are indeed legally enforceable. However, it is still recommended that contracts be in writing, as oral agreements are often quite difficult to prove in court.

Seasoned veterans like the Seattle, Washington attorneys at Frey Buck would recommend that contracts be in writing. This is particularly true for weighty agreements. Some agreement must by in writing, such as those involving real estate and some commercial goods. Others are simply too complex to be oral, like or business transactions. 

Regardless, without the establishment of a formal contract, written or oral, the inherent baseline exchange could be considered a gift.

Is There a Difference Between a Contract and an Agreement?

There is! It is subtle, but there is a key difference between these two terms that are often used interchangeably. Simply put, the contract is the instrument through which the agreement is enforced.

Who Can Enforce a Contract?

When engaging in disputes, parties are subject to court rulings in order to determine whether a contract legally exists. Courts also determine if said contract has been violated by any party. 

Enforceability hinges on whether legal analysis can identify that the basic building blocks of offer-acceptance-consideration are present in the agreement. Consideration is the exchange of something of value for the goods or services at issue.

Who Cannot Enter Into a Contract?

Unless a contract is for basic human necessities, children under 18 typically cannot be subject to a contract. This also applies to certain felons, people suffering from mental illness, drug addicts or any time there is mental impairment. Working with a Seattle business transaction attorney can help ensure that you’re making the best possible decisions for your unique scenario.

How Contracts are Structured

In order for an agreement to turn into a contractual agreement, any enforceable contract must include several key points. First, the parties entering into the contract, followed by consent, an agreed-upon subject and consideration. 

Entering Into the Contract

In identifying contractual parties, the contract must define each by name, and, in some cases, addresses or titles to verify the party has the authority to bind the contracting entity. 


Consent is acquired when both parties, not under any duress, agree to the terms of the contract. This can happen via signature or, in the case of an oral agreement, handshake and/or verbal affirmative.

The Subject

The subject is, simply, what the contract relates to. This could be a real estate deal, someone to mow your lawn, an actor signing on for a film and so on. It is worth noting that contracts for illegal services are not enforceable by law.


Consideration is truly what makes a contract a contract, instead of the aforementioned gift scenario. All parties entering into a contract must be getting something out of the deal. Parties not in receipt of designated services cannot have legal action taken against them for any perceived wrongdoing.

Need a Business Lawyer Seattle Companies Trust? Let Frey Buck Ensure that your Contract is Valid

Contracts can be very complicated, and representing yourself is always risky. Let the respected Seattle business lawyers at Frey Buck guide you through the contract process. When it comes to contract disputes, Frey Buck’s business transaction attorneys have an unparalleled record of success in the courtroom. For more information, visit our website or call 206-486-8000.

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