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Five Questions to Ask a Contracts Lawyer in the UK

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Business owne​​rs use commercial contracts regularly as part of their everyday operations. However, contracts can be tricky to understand. For that reason, you should employ the services of a qualified lawyer who can advise you on some of the most technical areas of contract law. Legal professionals can help you create legally binding contracts, negotiate the terms of those agreements and terminate or transfer your contractual obligations.

This article will discuss the top five questions you should ask a contracts lawyer. This will ensure you understand your contractual obligations and that your contracts are effective

1. Is My Contract Binding?

For a contract to be valid, it must have each of the following elements:

  • an offer and acceptance;
  • consideration; and 
  • intentions to create legal relationships. 

While these elements form a contract’s structure, you can only enforce an obligation on another party if your contract has certain terms that are not unfair to the other party. Additionally, verbal agreements can also become enforceable contracts. But, there are some legal documents, such as contracts for land, title deeds and guarantees that you must make in writing. 

To avoid uncertain terms in your contract, and ensure that it is in the correct format, you should seek the advice of a lawyer. They can help you draft contracts and negotiate legal documents. You can also check with them to see whether all your contract’s terms are legally enforceable.

2. How Can I Terminate My Contract?

As your lawyer can help you write an enforceable contract, they can also help you terminate an agreement. 

You can usually terminate a contract if: 

  • the contract was not enforceable in the first place; 
  • another party breaches the terms of the contract (which includes a failure to pay an agreed purchase price or fulfil services);
  • a party has made an untrue statement that was integral in your decision to enter the contract; or
  • the terms of the contract allow for termination under certain circumstances.

Again, if you are thinking of potentially terminating your contract, hiring a lawyer is a good idea. This is because they can use their legal expertise to advise and assist business owners on their options when terminating agreements and any consequences they may face.

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3. What Happens If I Breach My Contract? 

Sometimes, you can fall short of your contractual obligations. If this happens, you may need the assistance of a lawyer to advise you on your options. 

Specifically, if you breach your contract, you may be liable to compensate other parties for the losses they incur by paying damages. You could also become involved in a court case if you do not settle or dispute these damages. 

Typically, damages will involve payment to the innocent party to cover the expected earnings they may have lost. They can also cover the cost of finding a replacement service

4. Can I Amend an Existing Contract?

Times change, and while your original agreement may remain usable, it may need to be updated to reflect your growing business’ needs or to keep up with new legislation. 

For example, legal executives are currently seeing many businesses insert ‘COVID-19 Force Majeure’ provisions into contracts. Such provisions protect clients if extraordinary circumstances like the pandemic prevent them from performing their contractual obligations. 

Lawyers can assist you in drafting legal documents that can amend and update old contracts. However, it is important to note that if you want to change an existing contract, all parties must agree on those changes before they take effect.

5. Can I Transfer Your Obligations to Another Party?

As part of running your business, you may find that you wish to cease operations with another party or sell your business to someone else. If this happens, you may be able to transfer your obligations or interests to another party for specific service contracts, title deeds, and legal documents that convey legal rights.

Your lawyer can help you redraft servicing agreements and contracts to transfer specific rights or even the whole contract to another party. 

Those contractual interests can include things like: 

  • rights to payment;
  • obligations to perform a service; or
  • trustee responsibilities.

Lawyers can also help you replace a party to an agreement or arrange for a subcontractor to fulfil the service on your behalf. 

Key Takeaways 

Contract lawyers can help business owners draft and negotiate contracts, with the benefit of ensuring no unfair terms are inserted into your agreement. As a business owner, you should seek a contract lawyer’s services to check whether your  commercial arrangements are enforceable and how you can terminate your contracts, if needed. Additionally, your lawyer can also help advise you on transferring rights and updating a contract to help you keep up with the ever-changing business landscape. 

If you need help drafting or reviewing legal documents, our experienced commercial lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on [number] or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost a lawyer to draft and review a contract?

This can depend the lawyer you are hiring and the size of the transaction. It may also depend on how complicated the contract is. Lawyers can charge anywhere from £200 to £1500 to review a standard commercial contract. 

Can my lawyer witness my signature on a deed? 

Yes, under English law any person aged 18 or over who is not a party to that legal document can witness that deed. That includes your lawyer. 

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Edward Carruthers

Edward Carruthers

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