Friday, November 6, 2009
Oral Contract and Contract in Writing: The Meeting of the Minds on Essential Terms Element
THE ELEMENTS OF A CONTRACT UNDER TEXAS LAW
The elements of a valid contract are (1) an offer, (2) an acceptance, (3) a meeting of the minds, (4) each party’s consent to the terms, and (5) execution and delivery of the contract with the intent that it be mutual and binding. Prime Prods., Inc. v. S.S.I. Plastics, Inc., 97 S.W.3d 631, 636 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2002, pet. denied).
The elements of written and oral contracts are the same and must be present for a contract to be binding. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Lopez, 93 S.W.3d 548, 555 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, no pet.). For an agreement to be enforceable, there must be a meeting of the minds with respect to its subject matter and essential terms. Id. at 556.
The determination of a meeting of the minds, and thus offer and acceptance, is based on the objective standard of what the parties said and did. Id. The execution of a contract includes the performance of all acts necessary to render it complete as an instrument. Verson Allsteel Press Co. v. Carrier Corp., 718 S.W.2d 300, 303 (Tex. App.—Tyler 1985, writ ref’d n.r.e.) (per curiam). The question of whether a contract contains all the essential terms for it to be enforceable is a question of law. Beal Banks, S.S.B. v. Schleider, 124 S.W.3d 640, 654 n.8 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2003, pet. denied). What terms are material or essential to a contract are determined on a contract-by-contract basis, depending on the subject matter of the contract at issue. T.O. Stanley Boot Co. v. Bank of El Paso, 847 S.W.2d 218, 221 (Tex. 1992) (“Each contract should be considered separately to determine its material terms.”).
SOURCE: 01-09-00030-CV (First Court of Appeals) (11/5/09)