A contract is an agreement between two or more parties that creates, modifies or ends legal obligations.
  • Employment contract;
  • Loan for school or to buy a car;
  • Apartment rental or lease;
  • Insurance;
  • Marriage;
  • Medical care;
  • Installment purchase of some product or item.
No, all contracts do not have to be in writing. In fact, many contracts may not be in writing. However, the purchase or sale of immovable property, like real estate, must be in writing.
A written contract is proof of what the parties agreed to do. It helps protect the parties from dishonesty and prevents anyone from lying about the terms. It also helps the parties by refreshing their memory of the agreement. People often forget what they agreed to do and a written contract is a physical reminder.
  • Read the entire contract before you sign it and make sure you understand the terms;
  • Ask questions about things you don’t understand;
  • Don’t sign anything until you are sure you understand the agreement;
  • Cross out parts of the contract that conflict with your agreement. Also, write in parts of your agreement that are not in the contract;
  • Don’t sign a contract with any blank spaces. Fill them all in or cross them out;
  • Ask about the penalties if you can’t meet all the requirements;
  • Don’t sign a contract if you can’t meet all the requirements;
  • Be concerned if someone asks you to sign a contract before you read it or says, “It’s just a standard agreement and I explained the terms;”
  • Don’t be intimidated by salespeople;
  • Don’t be rushed by friendly salespeople;
  • Make sure you receive a complete, accurate, signed copy of the contract before you leave.
Not understanding the contract is not a defense for breaking it. Generally, it doesn’t matter why you don’t follow the contract, the result is the same: you can be sued.
Louisiana laws create deadlines called “prescriptive periods” that dictate when a person must file a lawsuit. Most contracts have a 10-year time period. If you think you have a possible claim or dispute, you should contact a lawyer to discuss it.

Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600