Legal Analysis

What is a Contract ?

Contracts are are used to establish legally binding agreements between parties which can written or oral. Contracts can be simply described as a promise enforceable by law.

In the UK, contracts are governed by the common law, which is a body of law that is derived from judicial decisions rather than legislation.

This article will provide an overview of contracts and contract law in the UK, including the key elements of a contract, the types of contracts, and the remedies available for breach of contract.

Elements of a Contract

There are four essential elements of a contract in UK law: offer, acceptance, consideration, and intention to create legal relations.

  1. An offer is a proposal made by one party to another party that is capable of acceptance. The offer must be sufficiently clear and definite so that the other party can understand what is being offered.
  2. Acceptance is the unqualified agreement to the terms of an offer. The acceptance must be communicated to the offeror and must be made in the manner specified in the offer, or in a reasonable manner if no manner is specified
  3. Consideration is something of value that is given in exchange for something else. The consideration must be something that the parties have agreed to exchange and must be sufficient, but need not be adequate. In other words, the consideration must be of some value, but it does not have to be of equal value to the other party’s consideration.
  4. In order for a contract to be enforceable, both parties must intend to create legal relations. This means that the parties must have a serious intention to be bound by the contract and that the agreement is not merely a social or domestic arrangement.

Types of Contracts

There are many different types of contracts that can be formed in the UK. Some of the most common types of contracts include:

  1. Express contracts are contracts that are formed by the express agreement of the parties. This means that the terms of the contract are explicitly stated either in writing or orally.
  2. Implied contracts are contracts that are formed by the conduct of the parties rather than by their express agreement. In other words, the parties’ actions indicate that they have agreed to certain terms.
  3. Unilateral contracts are contracts in which one party makes a promise in exchange for the other party’s performance. The contract is formed when the second party performs the requested act.
  4. Bilateral contracts are contracts in which both parties make promises to each other. The contract is formed when both parties have made their promises.
  5. Void contracts are contracts that are not enforceable by law. These contracts may be illegal, impossible to perform, or the result of a mistake or fraud.
  6. Voidable contracts are contracts that are valid, but may be avoided by one or both parties. These contracts may be avoided because of a mistake, misrepresentation, undue influence, or duress.

What is an Unfair Contract ?

An unfair contract is a contract that contains terms and conditions that are deemed to be unjust, unreasonable, or unconscionable. These terms may provide one party with an unfair advantage over the other or impose burdens or restrictions on one party that are significantly disproportionate to the benefits received.

Unfair contracts can take many forms and can be found in a variety of contexts, including consumer contracts, employment contracts, and commercial contracts. Examples of unfair contract terms might include clauses that:

  • Limit liability for one party while providing no such protection for the other
  • Grant one party the right to terminate the contract without cause or notice, while denying the same right to the other party
  • Give one party the exclusive right to make decisions or take actions that affect both parties
  • Provide for automatic renewals or extensions of the contract without sufficient notice or opportunity to terminate
  • Require one party to waive certain legal rights or remedies in exchange for entering into the contract

The exact criteria for what constitutes an unfair contract may vary. In general, however, an unfair contract is one that places one party at a significant disadvantage and is not the result of a freely negotiated agreement between the parties.

Remedies for Breach of Contract

If one party breaches a contract, the other party may have legal remedies available to them. Some of the most common remedies for breach of contract include:

  1. Damages are a monetary award that is intended to compensate the non-breaching party for the loss suffered as a result of the breach.
  2. Specific performance is a court order that requires the breaching party to fulfil their obligations under the contract.
  3. An injunction is a court order that prohibits the breaching party from doing something that would cause harm to the non-breaching party.
  4. Rescission is the cancellation of the contract and the parties are put back into the position in which they were before the contract was made.. This remedy is available when one or both parties have been induced to enter into the contract by fraud or mistake.


Contracts and contract law are complex topics that require careful consideration and attention to detail. By understanding the elements of a contract, types of contracts, and remedies for breach of contract, businesses and individuals can protect their interests and ensure that they operate in compliance with UK law.

We recommend you should always seek formal legal advice if required, from a qualified and reputable lawyer (solicitor or barrister).

Check out our articles on  What is the Law ?, R v Sussex Justices, Rule of Law, Litigants in Person, McKenzie Friends, HHJ FarquharHHJ Bedford and the highly dubious Sussex Family Justice Board.

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