Title: Rhode Island Law School 1L Study Guide for Contracts
I. Introduction to Contract Law
A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties. It requires an offer, acceptance, mutual assent, consideration, capacity, and legality of the object.
In contract law, an offer is a promise to do or refrain from doing something, conditioned on a return promise. The offer must be communicated, definite, serious, and objectively intend to be bound.
Case: Lucy v. Zehmer (Court held that a contract was formed because the offer was objective and serious.)
Acceptance involves the offeree’s agreement to the terms of the offer. It must be unequivocal, mirror the offer, and be communicated to the offeror.
Case: White v. Corlies (Court held that a contract was formed upon the completion of the requested act, signifying acceptance.)
IV. Mutual Assent
Also known as a “meeting of the minds,” mutual assent requires that both parties understand and agree to the essential elements of the contract.
Case: Specht v. Netscape (Court held that there was no mutual assent because one party was unaware of the contract terms.)
Consideration is what each party gives up to the other in the contract. It must be legally sufficient and bargained-for.
Case: Hamer v. Sidway (Court held that forbearance can be a valid consideration.)
Capacity concerns the ability of the party to understand the contract. Minors, mentally incapacitated individuals, and intoxicated persons may lack capacity.
Case: Odorizzi v. Bloomfield School District (Court held that undue influence can impact a party’s capacity.)
VII. Legality of the Object
The object of the contract must be legal. Contracts for illegal acts are unenforceable.
Case: Bovard v. American Horse Enterprises (Court held that a contract for an illegal act is not enforceable.)
VIII. Defenses to Contract Enforceability
Common defenses include mistake, misrepresentation, duress, undue influence, unconscionability, and Statute of Frauds.
Case: Jacob & Youngs v. Kent (Court held that perfect performance is not required for contracts of substantial performance.)
IX. Remedies for Breach of Contract
Remedies can include compensatory damages, consequential damages, reliance damages, specific performance, and restitution.
Case: Hadley v. Baxendale (Court held that damages must be foreseeable at the time of contract formation to be recoverable.)
X. Third-Party Rights
These involve situations where the contract affects a party not directly involved.
Case: Lawrence v. Fox (Court held that a third party can enforce a contract if it was intended to benefit them.)
XI. Discharge of Obligations
This involves conditions, performance, breach, agreement of the parties, or operation of law that end a party’s obligations under the contract.
Case: Kingston v. Preston (Court held that a failure of a condition precedent prevents contract performance.)
XII. Rhode Island Contract Law Specifics
In Rhode Island, the Statute of Frauds requires certain contracts to be in writing and signed by the party to be charged.
Case: R.I. Hospital Trust National Bank v. Varadian (Court held that the Statute of Frauds applied because the contract was not fully performed within one year.)
This guide provides a general overview of contract law but does not replace a thorough review of your course materials and case law.