When is a Contract not a Contract?

Hand holding contract with person in front of computer in background

When can something look like a contract but still not be a contract?

January 21, 2019
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

As I’ve stated numerous times here at Musings, in Virginia the contract is king. The courts of Virginia will read a contract as written and where there is a contract (read as foreshadowing), the courts will assume the parties knew what they were doing and enforce it by its terms. However, there has to be a contract in the first place.

When can something look like a contract but still not be a contract? When there isn’t mutual assent according to the case of Knox Energy, LLC v. Gasco Drilling, Inc. In the Knox case, along with a ruling on discovery abuse that is a topic of other blogs, considered a jury instruction on mutual assent given by the district court in a case where Knox contended that it inadvertently sent an unexecuted drilling contract form to Gasco and then inadvertently executed it when Gasco returned it. While this would not normally cause this series of events to be a non-contract, Knox also contended that Gasco knew that Knox had no intention to enter into the drilling contract and that Gasco jumped at the deal.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com


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