Legal Intent in Contract Law

What is Legal Intent in Contract Law?

Lord Denning outlined that ‘would reasonable people regard this agreement as intended to be legally binding?’ Intent in contract law is referred to as having the intention to form a legal contract, it is not enough that both parties are involved in a contract, but there must be an intention to create a legal relation. This is because an agreement can exist but may not be legal, therefore, it needs to have legal intent.

Is there Legal Intent in Family and Social arrangements?

In family and social arrangements there is difficulty to suggest legal intent that would become contracts because of the domestic arrangement such as between husband and wife. In social situations there may be an offer, acceptance and consideration, to do something for something in return but there may not be anything that legally binds that agreement. In the case of Balfour v Balfour (1919), it was ruled that because husband and wife were living in amity, there was no legal intent when an agreement was made because of the domestic situation as husband and wife, and that their dispute should be settled without legal proceedings. In this case it was presumed that legal intent does not exist.

The legal definition of presumption is something that is expected to be taken as the truth. The legal definition of rebuttal is that it is expected that the presumption is not true.

In the case of Merritt v Merritt (1970), the husband and wife became separated when they made an agreement. The husband promised to pay for certain expenses, he did not, and defended himself by claiming that the agreement was made within his family and did not have legal relations. However, the court found the agreement to be enforceable because the agreement was made when they were not in living amity and when they became separated. The presumption of legal intent was rebutted in this case because there was evidence that they were not living together. Therefore, the court may enforce an agreement if it is made when husband and wife are not living in amity or are separated.

In Jones v Padavatton (1969), there was an arrangement between mother (Jones) and daughter (Padavantton), the court decided that the arrangement was between family members and was not intended to become legal agreements because the agreements were not referred as contracts because of their uncertainty.

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  • Is there Legal Intent in Commercial Agreements?