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Finding an Enforceable Obligation

Part of the Contract Law For Dummies Cheat Sheet

If you’re faced with the question of contract formation in your legal dealings, take the following three steps to find the obligation in the parties’ interaction:

  1. Look for a bargained-for contract — an exchange that has the three essential elements of offer, acceptance, and consideration.

  2. Look for a claim based on reliance (also known as promissory estoppel), meaning that one party reasonably changed his position due to the other party’s promise and lost something as a result.

  3. Look for a claim based on restitution, meaning that one party conferred a benefit on another without intending it as a gift or forcing it on the other party.

If you find at least one of these elements, you’re looking at an enforceable obligation.

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