General Contracts: A Helpful Guide

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3 minute read

What is a General Contract?

General contracts are legal documents that lay out the terms and conditions related to an agreement. What this agreement is can vary based on your industry and the quirks of your business. The term “general” comes into play because these contracts are usually for basic agreements of many types that many entrepreneurs wouldn’t even think to put into writing, but they should for their own protection.

When Are General Contracts Needed?

The short answer is all the time. But to be more specific, general contracts are needed every time you reach a simple agreement with another party for something related to your business. Think about situations where you feel tempted to rely on nothing more than a verbal agreement —these are the moments when you should opt for a general contract. While the agreement may be too small or basic to draw up a highly tailored contract, having something on paper will still offer important protection.

Of course, if you lack a deep understanding of legal matters, it may be best to consult with a contract lawyer near you to determine if a general contract is right for your situation.

What Is Included in a General Contract?

Because these are meant to cover a wide variety of situations, there is a lot that can end up included in a general contract. When using these agreements, you might need to add certain clauses and remove others. However, the following items are typically included:

  • The date

  • The full legal names of the parties involved

  • Addresses of the parties

  • The roles of each party as it relates to the contract

  • The obligations of each party

  • Performance metrics related to the obligations

  • Rules for arbitration should there be a dispute

  • Rules for transferring contractual obligations to another party

  • Rules for amending the contract

  • Exclusion of other agreements related to the matter

  • Affirmation that all parties have read and understand the agreement

  • Space for signatures

What Should I Keep in Mind With General Contracts?

These contracts sound like they should be easy to create and execute, but don’t let terms like “general” and “basic” fool you. If the wording of the agreement is off in even one spot, it could jeopardize your business. Some tips that could help keep you protected include:

  • Always have a contract lawyer near you review agreements before you use them. Even if you draft them yourself, you need another pair of eyes to go over them.

  • When possible, have a contract lawyer draft your general agreements. You could even have them draft several of them to have on hand for various purposes.

  • Make sure the goals of the agreement are clearly established between yourself and the other parties.

  • Don’t rush into signing. Each party should have a few days to review the agreement and ask questions.

  • Never exchange money, goods, or services before the contract is signed.

  • Make sure all parties have one signed copy of the contract for their records.

  • Have a witness present during the signing of the agreement.

  • Remember that it is better to include too much detail in the agreement rather than too little.

Consulting With Vetted Contract Attorneys Near You

The best route to take with any contract, even the seemingly simple ones, is to work with a contract lawyer. Contracts Counsel is a boutique marketplace that helps you connect with vetted lawyers who understand the unique aspects of contract law and your industry. Protect your interests with ContractsCounsel.com.

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