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Does silence qualify as acceptance of a contract?

Business owners and other residents of California might benefit gaining a more in-depth understanding of contract law and what qualifies as acceptance. In its most basic form, a contract can be described as an agreement between parties that requires an offer, an acceptance and consideration for it to be valid. Contentious issues between the parties typically arise when there is a dispute concerning the existing terms or whether or not the contract is actually legally binding.

In order for a contract to exist, one party must make an offer and another party must accept the offer. There is not necessarily any rubric or form that dictates the manner in which the offer must be made or accepted. A contract may be a formal proposal drafted between two enterprises, or it may be a simple oral agreement to complete chores for a neighbor or friend. Silence typically does not qualify as an acceptance of an offer.

In order for the contract to be considered valid, an affirmative acceptance is usually required, but there are exceptions to this rule. Silence may signify acceptance when the two parties named in the agreement already have a contractual relationship that predates the new proposal. A common example of this scenario is when a vendor raises prices and notifies customers of the change. Unless the customers protest or cancel the service, silence is considered as acceptance of the new rates.

Anyone who needs more information about the validity of an agreement might benefit from consulting a lawyer who has experience in business and commercial matters. Legal counsel may be effective at examining the terms of the agreement in an effort to safeguard a client from a potential breach of contract action.

Source: Findlaw, "Contract Law", December 30, 2014

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