South Dakota Law School 1L Study Guide for Contracts

South Dakota Law School 1L Study Guide for Contracts

  1. Offer and Acceptance

Offer and acceptance form the basis of a contract. In order for a contract to be formed, there must be a clear offer and an unqualified acceptance of that offer.

Case: Lucy v. Zehmer (1954). This case illustrates the objective theory of contracts and that a party’s secret, subjective intent is irrelevant if their actions would lead a reasonable person to believe a contract was intended.

  1. Consideration

Consideration is the legal value in a contract. Each party must give and receive some kind of value (which can be a promise) for a contract to be enforceable.

Case: Hamer v. Sidway (1891). This case established the principle that a promise to refrain from a legal activity can be a valid consideration.

  1. Capacity

The parties must have the legal ability to enter into a contract. Capacity refers to the competency of the parties to enter a contract.

Case: Hawkins v. McGee (1929). This case established that a person must have the mental capacity to understand the terms and conditions of the contract, and the consequences of entering into it.

  1. Mutual Assent

Mutual assent, also known as a meeting of the minds, is achieved when the parties involved agree to the terms of a contract.

Case: Raffles v. Wichelhaus (1864). This case addressed the issue of mutual mistake and whether or not it negates mutual assent.

  1. Legality

The subject matter of the contract must be legal. An agreement to perform an illegal act is not a valid contract.

Case: Bovard v. American Horse Enterprises (1988). This case established that a contract for illegal activity is not enforceable in court.

  1. Implied Contracts

An implied contract is a contract that is not written or spoken, but is created by the actions of the parties involved.

Case: Vokes v. Arthur Murray (1968). This case demonstrated that an implied contract can still be binding.

  1. Defenses to Enforcement

Certain defenses may prevent a contract from being enforced, such as fraud, duress, undue influence, or unconscionability.

Case: Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture (1965). This case highlighted the concept of unconscionability as a defense against contract enforcement.

  1. Discharge of Contracts

A contract can be discharged or ended due to various reasons including performance, agreement, impossibility, or breach.

Case: Taylor v. Caldwell (1863). This case established the principle of impossibility as a valid reason for discharging a contract.

  1. Remedies

A party who has suffered a loss due to a breach of contract may be entitled to certain remedies, such as damages, specific performance, or restitution.

Case: Hadley v. Baxendale (1854). This case set the standard for foreseeability in contract damages.

  1. Third Party Rights

Third parties may have rights or obligations under a contract, depending on the terms of the contract.

Case: Lawrence v. Fox (1859). This case established the principle of third-party beneficiary rights.

Studying these topics, along with the relevant case law and principles, will provide a solid foundation for understanding contract law as it is taught in South Dakota’s law schools.

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