“An agreement is regarded as a contract when it is enforceable by law”

Table of content:

Introduction                                    1

English Law                                       2

How to create a contact                 3-11

Offer & Acceptance                        11-12

Conclusion                                        13

[1]English law – Definition

English law, the law of England and Wales (but not Scotland and Northern Ireland) is considered by some to be one of Britain’s great gifts to the world. Also known generally as the common law (as opposed to civil law), it was exported to Commonwealth countries while the British Empire was established and maintained, and persisted after the British withdrew or were expelled, to form the basis of the jurisprudence of many of those countries. Actually part of the English legal system has always been considered to be based upon the civil law, namely the ecclesiastical courts and the courts of admiralty.

The essence of common law is that it is made by judges sitting in courts, applying their common sense and knowledge of legal precedent to the fact before them. Because common law consisted of using what had gone before as a guide, common law places great emphasis on precedents. Thus a decision of the highest court in England and Wales, the House of Lords (the judicial members of which are referred to as Law Lords) is binding on every other court in the hierarchy, and they will follow its directions.

Precedent continues to be applied across both civil and criminal law to this day (as in other jurisdictions) allowing for decisions made in one Court regarding a set of facts and their interpretation in law to be applied to like circumstances in the future.

It is also for this reason that there is no Act of Parliament (the normal method for creating laws in the UK) making murder illegal. It is still a common law crime – so although there is no written Act passed by Parliament making murder illegal, it is illegal by virtue of the constitutional authority of the courts and their previous decisions. Common law can be amended or repealed by Parliament, for example, murder carries a mandatory life sentence today, but had previously allowed the death penalty.

However, while England and Wales retains the common law the UK is part of the European Union and European Union Law is effective in the UK. The European Union consists mainly of countries which use civil law and so the civil law system is also in England in this form, and the European Court of Justice, a predominantly civil law court, can direct UK courts on the meaning of EU law.

The oldest law currently in force is the Distress Act, 1267, part of the Statute of Marlborough, (52 Hen. 3). Three sections of Magna Carta, originally signed in 1215 and a landmark in the development of English law, are still extant, but they date to the reissuing of the law in 1297.

[2]How to Create a Contract

A contract is an agreement between two or more entities (individuals, companies, organizations or government agencies) to do, or to abstain from doing, a particular action in exchange for money or something else of value. Contracts can be verbal or written, but are generally written using formal or informal terms. The terms of a contract define the who, what, where, when and how of the agreement, and they describe the promises that each party is bound to in the contract. The following steps provide you with the basic structure of a standard contract.

How to Create a “House Rules” Contract

A House-rules Contract is a written set of expectations that adults have

of their adolescents (and preteens). The contract includes basic rules,

consequences and privileges.

What is the Purpose of a House-rules Contract?

The primary purpose of a House-rules Contract is for adolescents to be held accountable for their

behavior while allowing moms & dads to maintain a reasonable amount of control. A House-rules

Contract will teach adolescents that there are consequences to breaking rules, the knowledge of

which hopefully will transfer in the adolescent’s mind to school rules as well as the legal system.

A House-rules Contract will not resolve the issues of feelings and emotions involved within the

relationships between moms & dads and adolescents. It can only act as a basic agreement that

may allow you to work toward a resolution for problem behaviors, minimizing the disruption and

interference that can many times occur during the process of getting bad behavior under control

and restructuring a family’s rules.

Who is Included in a House-rules Contract?

We recommend that ALL PARENT-FIGURES with whom the adolescent has contact be involved in the

creation and enforcement of the House-rules Contract. This includes biological moms & dads, step-

moms & dads, adoptive moms & dads, custodial persons, noncustodial persons who are responsible

for the adolescents for all or part of a day, and legal guardians. It is very important for divorced moms & dads to put their differences aside and come together for  the purposes of creating a unified front for the youngster, so that one parent does not end up

sabotaging another’s efforts to bring the youngster’s bad behavior under control. Kids will

manipulate and undermine moms & dads who are at odds with each other, but will conform much

more readily to a unified front. Even if the divorced moms & dads do not agree on other issues, it is

tremendously important for them to agree on how to manage an out-of-control adolescent. In

situations in which two divorced moms & dads really don’t get along, the House-rules Contract can

sometimes best be accomplished with the help of a third party, such as a qualified therapist. Again,

moms & dads must put aside their differences for the sake of their wayward adolescent!!

Other adults who may be present in the home but are not actively involved in limit setting and the

process of raising the adolescent should be excluded; for example, an aunt or uncle who is staying

with the family. Adults will tend to have different expectations of an adolescent depending upon their

own outlook, and many times, adults who are not ultimately responsible for the adolescent may not

enforce the rules and consequences which you are taking the time to carefully plan, in essence,

undermining and making your contract ineffective.

ALL TEENS AND PRETEENS in the family should be included in the House-rules Contract. In order

to be effective, all kids need to see the House-rules Contract as fair. Therefore, it may not work to

single out the youngster with the bad behaviors and exclude siblings, as the offending youngster

will see it as unfair and will most likely refuse to follow it. If the compliant siblings protest their

involvement as they are already following the rules, remind them that this is a family effort and they

are part of the family. They can be told that since they are already following the rules, this home

contract should be a piece of cake for them and that you value their input. By including all siblings,

you are firmly establishing the fact that you are a FAMILY, and that getting the family to work as a

functioning unit requires the input and cooperation of each family member. This also establishes that

kids of all ages need to be held accountable for their behavior.

[3]Who Should Write the House-rules Contract?

A copy of the blank House-rules Contract should be given to every person who will ultimately be signing the contract, including the adolescents and preteens, for them to fill out with rules, consequences and rewards they feel are appropriate for the House-rules Contract. Adolescents who feel that they are being heard by their moms & dads and are allowed to participate in this process are far more likely to be compliant than those who are handed a set of rules and told “Do it or else.” Moms & dads are often amazed at what rules the adolescents think they should be following and at the severity of punishments they assign for themselves. Many moms & dads have had to actually decrease the punishments that the adolescent has stated he or she should have for not following certain rules. Other moms & dads  have found that their kids will think of very important items that they, the moms & dads, didn’t even  consider or overlooked. When kids contribute significantly to a good working contract, their contributions should be openly acknowledged and/or praised. It should be cautioned that moms &  dads should go over their kids’ suggestions alone, before presenting them to the family, and they should eliminate those suggestions which are made with the sole intent of belittling other family  members with whom siblings making the suggestions are not getting along. Sometimes your adolescent will refuse to participate, and if that’s the case, then you may let him  know that this contract will be implemented with or without his cooperation, and if he makes the  choice not to participate, you fully intend to follow the contract to the letter. If he ultimately doesn’t like something that is put in the contract, then that will be his problem because he didn’t participate  in writing it. Again, the participation of each person in the family who will be involved, if at all  possible, is vital to the success of your contract, but don’t allow yourself to be undermined by an  adolescent who is threatening noncooperation! Your final contract should be the results of negotiation and compromise, taking everybody’s ideas  into consideration. If the whole idea of a House-rules Contract threatens to break down when an  agreement cannot be reached between two or more parties, particularly moms & dads, the entire  family should strongly consider visiting a social worker or family therapist, even if only for one visit,  to get an objective third party to help break the log jam and create a Home Contract that everybody can live with. However, some items should not be negotiable, such as an adolescent demanding a  curfew that is later than what the law in your area would allow for his or her particular age group.

What are Appropriate Consequences?

Moms & dads should provide progressive consequences for refusal to follow rules and directions. Unfortunately, some moms & dads, in an effort to “get tough” on their wayward adolescent, will go overboard and ground the youngster for weeks and weeks for a single incident. The rationale behind punishment should be primarily to offer an unpleasant learning experience so that the adolescent will learn to correct his own behavior and not repeat the offending action. For most adolescents, a punishment that consists of weeks of grounding on a first offense is too long and will cause further resentment rather than be a learning experience for the adolescent.

Steps to Creating a House-rules Contract

1.        Identify a maximum of five (5) problem behaviors that you feel need to be improved. These behaviors could be priorities, and some should be related to the behaviors that are causing the most

problems, i.e., legal problems, school problems, or medical problems (such as illness due to drug

abuse or an overdose, or medication compliance issues if the adolescent is on psychiatric

medications such as Ritalin).

2.        Specifically identify what the expectation is for each behavior. Be clear and concise when

identifying expectations so that there is no chance for an adolescent to tell you he or she didn’t

understand the expectation.

Example: Adolescent will attend all therapy sessions, including weekly individual and weekly family

therapy, and adolescent will take medication as prescribed.

3.        Specifically state what the privileges and consequences will be when an adolescent is either

following the rules or chooses to break the rules. These privileges and consequences should be

natural and logical. In other words, when possible, set a consequence that is related to the

misbehavior. Be sure you, the mom/dad, are willing and able to enforce the consequences that you

set or your contract will be worthless.

Example (for the expected behavior listed above):

?   Consequence: Adolescent will not be given any privileges until he complies (car, phone, TV, radio,

going out with friends, etc.). THIS IS NOT NEGOTIABLE.

?   Privilege: Adolescent will earn moms & dads’ trust and be better equipped to cope with stresses.

4.        Set a date that the contract may be revised and/or negotiated. Renegotiation is based on

the amount of progress. Inform adolescent that he/she may earn more or fewer privileges based on

behavior in the interim. Encourage dialogue with your adolescent regarding privileges he or she may

want to earn in the future.

5.        VERY IMPORTANT – Consult with other parental figures to make sure that ALL ARE IN


agree on some of the items, it is imperative to make the necessary revisions to come to an  agreement.

Again, a qualified therapist may be able to help you get over the hurdles of differing opinions.

Examples of Items that Might be Included in a House-rules Contract

A Sample Contract with three items is included below. The items below are only suggestions to get

you started. Moms & dads must take their own individual circumstances and priorities into account

when setting up the individual items in a House-rules Contract. Some items that might be considered

priorities, other than those listed below, might include profanity or abusive language towards other

family members, homework issues for students with poor grades, and violent behavior towards

family members, including pushing, shoving, and slapping. A list of possible priorities to include in a House-rules Contract includes:

[4]1.        Alcohol/drug use

2.        Attendance at therapy sessions

3.        Chores

4.        Computer use

5.        Conflict resolution (helpful when two siblings are at each other’s throats)

6.        Curfew

7.        Expression of anger or violence, including profanity

8.        Medication issues and compliance (for those who take regular medicines, such as Ritalin)

9.        Running away

10.      School behavior and grades

11.      Smoking

12.      Telephone use

13.      Use of the car

NOTE: For the safety of everybody involved, police should be called for ALL violent episodes that

occur on the part of the adolescent with the perceived intent of injuring a family member or

destroying property that belongs to other family members. Violence that has no consequences will  continue to escalate and could eventually result in a serious incident, so this type of behavior needs

to be halted immediately by allowing the adolescent to experience serious consequences for the

violent behavior (police, charges and possible court date). It sounds harsh to call the police on your

own youngster, but it is better to have the adolescent learn from you that violence will never be

tolerated, and that this behavior is absolutely forbidden, than for your adolescent to wind up in jail

down the road because he never had any consequences for violence at home. An old saying states

that if a mom/dad does not properly discipline a youngster, eventually society will do the disciplining.


A.        Adolescent will not use any alcohol or drugs.

?     Consequence: Adolescent will be grounded for one week. Grounding consists of: staying home,

no friends as guests, no phone calls, etc.). Punishment will increase one week for each subsequent

offense (i.e., if adolescent is caught using substances a second time, punishment will be for two

weeks, etc.). Note: It is VERY important to clearly state what being grounded consists of so that

there are no avenues for manipulation by the adolescent to get out of the punishment.

?     Privilege: Adolescent will be allowed to continue going out with friends and may have continued

use of the car.

B.        Adolescent is expected to return home immediately after school except if prior arrangements

are made with moms & dads. Adolescent will inform moms & dads where he/she is going and will be

home by 8:00 p.m. on school nights and 11:00 p.m. on non-school nights.

?     Consequence: Adolescent will be expected to come home twice as early as he was late for one

week. (e.g., if 30 minutes late, then curfew will be one hour earlier for the next week).

?     Privilege: Adolescent will maintain current curfew and gain trust (some moms & dads may want

to allow their adolescent to work his/her way up to a later curfew by proving himself or herself, but

moms & dads should never set a curfew later than the legal curfew in their area).

C.        Adolescent will perform all assigned chores in a satisfactory manner, according to the

standards set by moms & dads. (It is helpful to provide a written list of daily chores so there is no    misunderstanding – a dry-erase marker board hung in the kitchen or other family area works great  for this purpose).

?     Consequence: Adolescent will not be allowed any privileges until required chores are completed,

including TV, radio, computer, having friends visit or going out with friends.

?     Privilege: Adolescent will maintain access to all privileges of the house, including watching TV,

using the computer, having friends visit, and going out with friends.

In summary, a House-rules Contract that has been carefully thought out and agreed to by all parties

can provide much structure to an adolescent who is having difficulty staying out of trouble.

A Blank House-rules contract for you to get started is provided by clicking on the below link. This

blank contract can be printed on your printer by clicking on the printer icon in your browser.[6]

[7]Offer and Acceptance

‘A contract is an agreement which gives rise to obligations which are enforced or recognized by law. The factor which distinguishes contractual [relations] from other obligations is that they are based on the agreement of the contracting parties.’1

To enter a legally binding bilateral contract there must be an offer and an acceptance. An offer is defined by Paul Richards in the Law of Contract as: ‘An expression of a willingness to contract on certain terms made with the intention that a binding agreement will exist once the offer is accepted.’

For an offer to be valid it must be communicated. This might seem rather obvious, however circumstances in real life may be more blurred as illustrated by the case of Taylor v Laird (1856) 1H & N 266; 25 LJ Ex 329. The captain of a ship, employed for a trading and exploring voyage, refused to go any further and resigned his command. He subsequently helped to work the ship home and wanted to claim his wage for this work. It was held however that he could not do so as his offer to help bring the ship home was not communicated, therefore there had been no opportunity to accept or reject his offer.

A distinction must be noted between an offer and a request for information. This distinction can be shown by the case of Harvey v Facey [1893] AC 552 in which a telegraph was sent stating:

‘Will you sell us Bumper Hall Pen? Telegraph lowest cash price’ the responded replied: ‘Lowest price Bumper Hall Pen for 900’ they then replied with: ‘We agree to buy Bumper Hall Pen for 900’ It was held that the reply to the lowest cash price was not an offer, it was simply a statement as to the minimum price he would sell the Bumper Hall Pen, it was just a response to a request for information. The final telegraph was an offer which was not accepted.

The offer might be confused further with invitation to treat. There is a clear distinction between the two however as an invitation to treat shows a willingness to enter into negotiations rather than a willingness to enter into a legally binding contract. This can be illustrated by the case of Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd [1952] 2All ER 456 in which it was held that the goods on the shelves are an invitation to treat and the offer occurs at the checkpoint, at which point the customer offers to buy a certain good for a certain price and then Boots either accepts or rejects the offer. Rather than vice versa whereby it is Boots making an offer by putting the goods on a shelve and the customer accepting this offer by moving the goods into the basket.

[8]Acceptance of an Offer

The second part of a contract is the acceptance of an offer. Acceptance was defined by Treitel as ‘a final unqualified expression of assent to all the terms of an offer’. As with offer, acceptance has to be communicated in order for it to be valid as illustrated by Lord Denning in Entores v Miles Far East Corporation [1955] 2 QB 327 The communication of acceptance can be in writing, orally or inferred from [9]conduct. There can be an acceptance only when there is an offer however. In the absence of such offer there can be no acceptance, therefore no legally binding contract can be formed.

The manner in which an acceptance is communicated is important as it might make it invalid. Unless requested by the offered for a certain mode of communication to be used, in Tinn v Hoffman and Co. (1873) 29 LT 271 it was stated that an equally expeditious mode or more expeditious as the mode used to communicate the offer can be used. In Manchester Dioceasan Council for Education v Commercial and General Investment Ltd [1969] 3All ER 159 Buckay J states: ‘I am of the opinion that acceptance communicated to the offered by any other mode which is no less advantageous to him will conclude the contract.’

In Adams v Lindsell (1818) 1 B & Ald 681 the postal rule was established, the validity of which still stands as shown in modern times by the case of Brinkibon Ltd v Stahag Stahl und Stahlwarenhandelsgesellscaft GmbH [1983] 2 AC 34. The postal rule states that an offer is accepted as soon as the letter of acceptance has been posted. Hence, although a letter might be received on the 18th of November, if it was sent on the 17th of November, the acceptance of the offer occurs on the 17th rather than the 18th. It is not clear whether the postal rule applies to emails as such a case has no precedent. However, there are reason to believe that the postal rule may apply to emails. In the case of Entores it was stated that instantaneous forms of communication are as if they were in each others presence. This was developed further in the Brimmes case whereby it was decided that instantaneous forms of communication are as if they were in the presence of each other as far as it is within a business day. It can be argued therefore that an e-mail is an instantaneous form of communication as it is received within seconds of being sent. As such it may be suggested that the principles of the Entores and Brimmes might be applied to email communications as well.


The contract shall be regarded as concluded, if an agreement has been achieved between the parties on all its essential terms, in the form proper for the similar kind of contracts. As essential shall be recognized the terms, dealing with the object of the contract, the terms, defined as essential or indispensable for the given kind of contracts in the law or in the other legal acts, and also all the terms, about which, by the statement of one of the parties, an accord shall be reached.. The contract shall be concluded by way of forwarding the offer (the proposal to conclude the contract) by one of the parties and of its acceptance (the acceptance of the offer) by the other party



1         Business Law: The Ethical, Global, and E-Commerce Environment [Book] by Jane Mallor, A. James Barnes, L. Thomas Bowers, Arlen Langvardt in Books

2         Modern Land Law [Paperback]

3         Mark P. Thompson (Author)

4         Be the first to review this item

5         Richards, Paul, Law of Contract, 8th Ed. (Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, 2007)





[2] House Rules Contract

[3] House Rules of contract(Modern Land Law)

[4] House rule contact


5Section  of the Act.

The desire of the promisor is expressed in the proposal itself which he communicates to the promisee at the very outset  of the transaction.

Acceptance of an Offer


[8] Acceptance of an Offer