A contract is a legal agreement which involves an exchange of goods or services for money.
Written and spoken contracts
Contracts can be written or verbal, but a written contract:
- can make it easier to prove the specific terms of the agreement
- is a hard copy so you can prove there was an agreement
- doesn’t rely on someone’s memory of the details.
If you are entering into a verbal contract, always ask for details about:
- what services are being provided
- the costs - eg the price for carpet cleaning a standard size room, ask what is ‘standard’?
Australian Consumer law protects you against unfair contract terms, but you should always:
- read contracts carefully before signing
- keep copies of contracts in a safe place
- say 'no' if you feel pressured to agree to something you aren’t sure about.
You can agree to make changes to a contract but both parties need to agree on the details.
Before entering into a contract
Don’t sign a contract unless you:
- have read it
- understand it
- agree with it.
If you are unsure about part of a contract, get some legal advice before signing. Generally, once all parties sign the contract, it is legally binding.
Breaking a contract
A contract breach happens when someone doesn’t do what they agreed to do: they break the contract. A court can enforce a contract, ordering people to stick to their original agreement. The court could also order people pay compensation to the other party.
Making a consumer complaint
Contact Consumer and Business Services (CBS) for consumer advice. CBS can help if you have a problem with a trader but there are some simple steps you can take before lodging a formal complaint.
Making a consumer complaint offers advice and a checklist to guide you through resolving problems with a trader.
Contact the Legal Services Commission on 1300 366 424 or visit Legal Services Commission of South Australia if you need legal advice about contracts.
Contact Consumer and Business Services
91 Grenfell Street
GPO Box 1719
Adelaide SA 5001