This is why you should document your contract!

This is why you should document your contract!

On the 5th of January, 2014, Dr. Ayo Amosun bought a duplex at Gbonagun Estate from Ven. Lekan Akinbode at the sum of Fifty Million Naira Only (N50,000,000.00). Both of them had agreed that there was no need to put pen on paper since the payment is to be made once and for all. On the 4th of March, 2015, Dr. Amosun promised to give his wife, Deaconess Imek Amosun the duplex if she comes out with flying colours in her Masters Degree programme. “Don’t worry honey. I just want you to know this duplex is all yours if you get an excellent result upon the completion of your Masters Programmes” were his exact words. Fortunately for Deaconess Amosun, she emerged as the Overall Best Student of the University of Lagos for the Masters category but Dr. Amosun has refused to release the Duplex. “Sweetheart, but this is a contract between us. Why are you now attempting to breach it?”, Deaconess Amosun complained.
Dr. Ayo Amosun just called me on phone to confirm whether he indeed contracted with his wife. He also expressed fear that Ven. Lekan Akinbode’s wife, Mrs. Adeola Akinbode was trying to sell the duplex to another person.

Points to Note:
1. A contract is an agreement between two parties giving rise to obligations which are enforced or recognised by law.
2. For there to be a valid contract, the following elements must be present:
(i) Offer – One person must have made an offer to contract with another person. (Do you know that a cab man driving up and down the street while ‘girraffing’ to hear where you called is making an offer?)
(ii) Acceptance – The other person to whom the offer was made must have CLEARLY accepted it. This can be expressly or by the person’s conduct. (For example, you can’t say you have not accepted to sell your brogues when you’ve collected the money and spent it).
(iii) Consideration – Each person must be offering something of value to the other person in return for what he is getting.
NB: Consideration need not be adequate but it must be sufficient. (For example, if you sell your iphone 7 for N5,000 it is sufficient for a valid contact)
(iv) Capacity: Both parties must be up to age (18years) and of sound mind. (For example, a person whose ‘skunskun’ is official cannot enter into a valid contract).
(v) Contractual Intention/intention to enter into legal relation- Most social arrangements do not amount to contracts because they are not intended to be legally binding. But for some exceptions, domestic agreements between husband and wife or parent and children are not intended to have legal relation.
(vi) Contracts can be in oral or written form. However, there are some contracts which the law EXPRESSLY requires to be in writing. For example land agreements must be in writing (sealed, signed and delivered).
NB: I will advise that, as much as possible, all your contracts should be in writing. Yes! People can deny for Africa.
(vi) There is a protection for someone who has fulfilled his part of the contract if the other person does not want to perform his. It is based on the law that “What ought to be done is regarded as done”. (Doctrine of Part-Performance)

As it stands now, Dr. Amosun should have gotten a written agreement that is ‘sealed, signed and delivered’ from Ven. Akinbode as evidence of the sale of the duplex. However, since Dr. Amosun has substantially performed his own part of the contract by making full payment, the law will not allow Ven. Akinbode to benefit from his own wrong. Dr. Amosun can get his lawyer to write to Ven. Akinbode demanding that a written agreement be made. If Ven. Akinbode refuses, Dr. Amosun can institute an action in court to claim his right.
There is no contractual agreement between Dr. Amosun and his wife, Deaconess Imek Amosun since it is a mere social or domestic arrangement made during one of those romantic evenings. You know?
Mr. “My Mum said she will get me a Bugatti if I get a distinction in Pharmacology” should take note. There’s no contract to enforce even if she doesn’t buy it.
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede

Joseph Ogunmodede

Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede is a budding lawyer and the Founder of THE LEGAL DIARY.
He was born in Ogun State, Nigeria, and holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Degree from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State where he was awarded a First Class (Honours). He is currently a Bar Aspirant at the Nigerian Law School (Lagos Campus).

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