If one party wrote an agreement down on paper and the other party signed it, does that make it legally binding? For example, something silly like if Bob wrote on a piece of scrap paper that he will pay Alice $5 a day for her to walk his dog for the next 3 weeks, and they both sign it, then Bob decides he no longer wants the service. Can Alice successfully sue Bob, if Bob stopped paying?

1 Answer 1


To form a contract, you must have:

  • Intention to create legal relations
  • Agreement
  • Consideration
  • Legal Capacity
  • Genuine Consent
  • Legality of Objects

On the face of it, Alice and Bob's agreement meets these criteria so it is a legally binding contract and Alice would have every prospect of success in a legal action for breach of contract.


  • by writing out and signing the agreement they are showing an intention to be legally bound
  • what they have each agreed to do is vey clear; more than many I have seen
  • both parties have provided consideration: dog walking and money
  • there is no suggestion that either was legally incapable of forming a contract
  • genuine consent refers to them actually agreeing what they though they agreed, for example if Alice asked Bob to walk her dog (meaning the Great Dane) and Bob agreed (meaning the Jack Russell) there has not been genuine consent
  • dog walking and paying money are both legal
  • Must a contract be signed to be legally binding?
    – Alex
    Oct 14, 2015 at 9:10
  • 1
    @Alex Did you buy a coffee today? Did you sign the contract when you did so?
    – Dale M
    Oct 14, 2015 at 10:16
  • conversely, if you have said or written something it's not legally binding. For example if I write "I'm going to give you $100" and not sign it, you can't sue me for not doing so. Maybe you can give a definition for what the phrases mean in your first list?
    – Alex
    Oct 25, 2015 at 10:52
  • @Alex I can't give a definition; I could, if I had time, write a textbook. These issues are contract law.
    – Dale M
    Oct 26, 2015 at 2:39
  • @Alex it does'nt have to be signed, but a signature is good evidence for consent, and not signing is good evidence for no consent. Depends on the situation. When you buy a coffee, the combined fact that the shop offers coffee, you ordered it, the shop gave you the coffee, and you drank it, is good evidence for consent.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 20, 2016 at 10:24

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