After reading this chapter, you should understand the following:
- Contracts require “a meeting of the minds” between competent parties, and if there is no such “meeting,” the agreement is usually voidable.
- Parties must enter the contract voluntarily, without duress or undue influence.
- Misrepresentation or fraud, when proven, vitiates a contract.
- A mistake may make a contract voidable.
- Parties to a contract must have capacity—that is, not labor under infancy, intoxication, or insanity.
We turn to the second of the four requirements for a valid contract. In addition to manifestation of assent, a party’s assent must be real; he or she must consent to the contract freely, with adequate knowledge, and must have capacity. The requirement of real assent raises the following major questions:
- Did the parties enter into the contract of their own free will, or was one forced to agree under duress or undue influence?
- Did the parties enter into the contract with full knowledge of the facts, or was one or both led to the agreement through fraud or mistake?
- Did both parties have the capacity to make a contract?