Important Legal Cases Business People Should Know
The fine print – When it comes to contracts from a business perspective. When it comes to the court system, there's only one thing that I know for sure. Namely, every court case has a winner and a loser (mostly anyway) attorney, and the only way to really get your head wrapped around your situation is to speak with at least one OR MORE attorneys that focus on the type of situation you're wondering about. What that means in a nutshell is that even lawyers get a wrong often. So treat this page as a starting point, and nothing more, or you're just as likely to have the total opposite of the correct answer as you are to have the right idea.
Sometimes, especially when you're just starting out, it's nice to know what another business person thinks, even if not totally correct. And with that said, I make no warranties about the correctness of any of the cases or really anything on this page. It's as much for my own reference as it is for anyone else. If you find value and it helps you, great, but certainly don't make any decisions based on what I think (a non-lawyer) relative to a court case.
Hopefully, that's enough of a disclaimer so there's no mistake that I'm not a lawyer and my interpretation is only my own opinion, and nothing more…..
Adams v. Lindsell –
"Mailbox rule", or for our commonwealth friends "postal rule". Placing acceptance in the mailbox (with proper wording, postage etc…) creates binding acceptance. Back in 1818, two parties contracted for a sale of wool in England, and it was determined that (in this situation) when the one party deposited the letter of acceptance to the terms of the contract, the contract was accepted and bound the two parties. There's an 1892 follow-up case titled Henthorn v. Fraser in that the court ruled the precise time the contract was accepted was the same moment the physical letter was placed into the custody of the post office.
Caldwell v. Cline –
Offers that state they will be open for a given number of days must remain open specified number of days, starting the day the offeree (person receiving the offer) receives the offer. As a merchant, if you state you will keep an offer open for X days, you're required to keep the offer that many days after the offeree receives the offer, not the necessarily the number of days after making the firm offer.
Merit Music v. Sonneborn –
Just because you didn’t read it, doesn’t mean you’re not bound if you sign it. You know those long terms of contract you agree to almost blindly when signing up for cell phone service or many websites? If you sign the contract, using an argument that "I didn't know what I was agreeing to, so I couldn't have totally agreed/assented to the terms" isn't going to fly. I've noticed some websites won't let you continue unless you "pretend" like you've read the terms by scrolling to the bottom, so maybe some jurisdictions aren't locked tightly into Merit Music v. Sonneborn, but I wouldn't sign a contract without reading it thinking I can get out of the contract by claiming I didn't read it. Expeptions may include fraud, duress, or material mistake, albeit if you have the ability to understand reading or not reading isn't a "get out of jail free card".
This is a work in progress and I will add more cases as I encounter them.
This is true even when the cases spill over into the world of insurance and real estate. That's because even though I may be licensed in some states for insurance and at least one state as a real estate broker, it doesn't mean