The Four Corners of the Contract

When a person is signing a contract, they need to make sure that any and all promises or expectations are outlined in the contract. If guarantees or assurances are made outside of the contract, they essentially can’t be enforced. This is because any dispute will refer to the “four corners of the contract.” In other words, they will look at what specifically is written on the page. Before you sign any contract, it may be a good idea to speak with a contract dispute attorney to prevent any problems from an unfair contract.

In law, this is known as the “parol evidence” rule, which says that a party cannot introduce evidence or any oral or implied agreements. For instance, a business might sign a contract for the purchase of 5,000 widgets on May 1, with payment due five business days after. The five business days come and go, and the business hasn’t paid. The widget manufacturer sues and the business claims, “The manufacturer told me that if I needed a few extra weeks, it wouldn’t be a problem.” That would not be admissible in court.

Because of this, it is vital that any agreements, amendments, or other concerns be explicitly contained in writing. Every contract should contain 100% of the agreement between both parties. If it is not in writing, it’s like it never existed. Therefore, if a party says, “Don’t worry” about a problematic clause or refuses to put a guarantee in writing that they claim they’ll honor, the other party should not sign this contract. Ultimately, it will only lead to problems.

It should be noted that there could be times when outside evidence is admitted for a particular contract. For example, if there is some ambiguity that needs to be cleared up, if there was some kind of fraud or a problem that invalidates a contract, or show that one party was never paid. A contract dispute attorney can review the facts of your case to determine if outside evidence can and should be admitted.

At May Law, we have helped clients throughout the Fairfax area resolve any contract disputes they may have. We will aggressively fight for your rights. For a consultation to discuss your case, contact us right away.

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