Practice Areas

Contracts Attorney in San Diego

San Diego, California, Contract Lawyers

Very little would get done in the modern world without contracts, which are nothing more than agreements between two or more people (or other entities like businesses, governments, etc.). They underlie everything from getting a mortgage to ordering billions of dollars of equipment needed on a large scale construction project. The contract serves as the foundation for the respective responsibilities of the people who sign them. Needless to say, getting the terms of the contract right when it’s first drawn up can be the difference between a smooth experience that’s profitable for everyone, and a continuing nightmare in which everybody is at everybody’s throats for the duration leading to a breach of contract. It’s more than worth it to have experienced San Diego contract attorneys involved in drafting the contract and reviewing the language the other party wants to put in.

The “Do It Yourself” Approach

Especially for agreements that don’t involve a lot of money, or are between friends or family members, you may wonder why it’s worth having a lawyer write the contract or review it. The answer is actually pretty simple: because it’s between friends or family members. Regardless of how much money is involved, lack of clarity and specifics can lead to disputes over who was supposed to do what, and once the dispute pops up, the long term relationship is in jeopardy. Why risk friendships and family harmony—and the mental distress that entails–over a “small” contract? –Oral Contracts You may be tempted to reach an agreement orally and leave it at that. That also tends to come up frequently when the parties know each other well. But an oral contract not only leaves you open to the same problems noted above, it may actually be unenforceable because the law—the Statute of Frauds— requires most contracts to be in writing. Any agreement that can’t be performed completely within a year must be written. So must agreements concerning real property, even if the contract can be completely performed within a year. The whole point is that oral agreements are simply hard to prove, which isn’t good for anyone.

Common Contract Problems

Since contracts can be written to cover any agreement imaginable, there’s no way to list every problem that may come up. But several problems occur often enough that they should be specifically and carefully addressed in the process of creating the contract:

  1. Describing the obligations of one or both parties in vague terms that leave too much room for interpretation. For example, specifying that windows and frames will be “suitably upgraded” without specifying how to determine what “upgraded” means or which party gets to make the determination of “suitability.”
  2. Leaving out contingencies that could easily have been identified at the time the contract was signed. For example, creating a contract that calls for the use of 10 pieces of heavy construction machinery without specifying who is responsible for repairs or replacements if the vehicles break down.
  3. Having an informal understanding about something which is not mentioned in the contract. For example, in the construction machinery contract above, deciding that the cost of repair or replacement will be split between the parties, but saying nothing about that deal in the contract itself. The “parol evidence” rule usually prevents using outside evidence to show what the final contract “meant” but didn’t say.

The third problem, above, tends to occur frequently in contracts between people who know each other and/or are related. Experience has shown us repeatedly that specifics and clarity should trump friendship and family relationships, but there is an art to getting the parties to understand that without being insulted.

Help with Southern California Contract Disputes

The best business litigation attorneys are the ones who keep you out of court, which begins with careful drafting of contracts to protect all of your interests in the transaction. The team of San Diego business attorneys and paralegals at Boyd Law in San Diego does that whenever possible, but when disputes arise and going to court is the only way to protect your rights, we are prepared for the battle, consistently and vigorously. And we keep you objectively informed throughout the process. Whether you need a contract written, reviewed, or enforced, contact us today. There’s no charge for the initial consultation, whether in our offices or over the phone. We can help.