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Chapter 9 Form and Meaning

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should understand the following:

  1. What kinds of contracts must be evidenced by some writing under the Statute of Frauds, what the exceptions to the requirements are, and what satisfies a writing requirement
  2. What effect prior or contemporaneous “side” agreements have on a written contract
  3. How a contract is to be interpreted if its meaning is disputed

In four chapters, we have focused on the question of whether the parties created a valid contract and have examined the requirements of (1) agreement (offer and acceptance), (2) real consent (free will, knowledge, and capacity), (3) consideration, and (4) legality. Assuming that these requirements have been met, we now turn to the form and meaning of the contract itself. Does the contract have to be in a written form, and—if there is a dispute—what does the contract mean?