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  Legalwise Wiseup  
  September 2017  

image 1You’ve signed a contract. Can it be changed?
Without you even knowing?

When will a contract be concluded?

> A contract is an agreement between two or more persons (“parties”) that creates binding terms and conditions (“T's and C's”). The T's and C's set out the performance required from each party to the contract.

> There must be a meeting of the minds between the parties to the contract. In other words, the parties must be in agreement with each other on the T's and C's contained in the contract and intend to be bound by them. If there is no meeting of the minds between the parties, there can be no contract.

> A contract is concluded when an offer made by one party, subject to certain T's and C's, is accepted in full by another party (together with the T's and C's).

> An offer can be made verbally, in writing or through someone's behaviour.

> Examples of T's and C's include: the details of the parties to the contract, the type of contract, duration of the contract, payment, how payment must be made, cancellation of the contract, changing the T's and C's of the contract, breach and so on.

> It must be noted that a contract will not be valid if the parties to the contract are younger than 18 years old; if the contract contains illegal T's and C's; and/or if there are any legal requirements that have not been met.

May a contract be changed after it has been concluded?

> Yes, if all the parties to the contract agree to such change, but a contract may not be changed by only one party.

> To determine how a contract may be changed, the parties must look at the type of contract, the law that applies to it and its T's and C's.

> Some contracts may be changed by an informal agreement between the parties (spoken words or the way the parties conduct themselves), where other contracts may only be changed in writing and must be signed by both parties (written agreement).

May a person conclude a contract by way of an e-mail?

> Contracts can be concluded via the internet by way of e-mails, SMSes or other electronic forms of communication that can be sent, received and stored. For example, buying goods or services, booking accommodation or hiring vehicles over the internet.

> Some contracts are required by law or by the parties to be in writing and signed.

> A contract is considered to be in writing if it was communicated by way of an e-mail. However, a person must be able to access or open such a contract (display) and use it as a reference (produce) in the future again.

> Where the law requires a contract to be signed, the contract will be considered signed if an advanced electronic signature was used; unless another type of signature was specified. An advanced electronic signature must comply with certain requirements.

> Where the law does not specify the type of signature required, the contract will be considered signed if it was sent by way of an e-mail containing an electronic signature. An electronic signature must identify the person that is required to sign the contract, indicate that the person approves the content, and the e-mail must be reliable.

> If the parties do not want to conclude or change a contract by way of an e-mail, they must specifically mention it in the T's and C's of the contract; or use a disclaimer contained in an e-mail when negotiating the T's and C's of the contract.

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You’ve signed a contract. Can it be changed?
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