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I understand that a contract can be created by the actions undertook by the involved parties. When you visit a website you agree to the ToS by using the website (regardless if you read it or not). Related to my previous question I had an employer deduct a small fee to process my payment, they argued that they were allowed to because it stated they would on the website I had to use for the job. Does this even form a contract?

Another example, I went to a library and started using a computer. The librarian came up to me and pointed out a sign saying I had to pay before using the computer (which is uncommon where I live). Is there a contract formed by just having a sign? Hypothetically could the library sue me for not paying?

Further, if there was a sign on the door to a private building saying you have to pay $20 to enter, if you didn't read the sign and entered, could the owner demand $20 from you?

  • The library example is a bit different. You can either say "Yes, I agreed to the conrtact" or "No, I didn't". If you agreed to it then you are bound by it and you must pay. If you didn't agree to it, then you have no obligation to pay, but other than the contract, nothing gave you permission to use the computer at all. So you've just admitted that you are using their computer without having permission to do so. There may be more serious consequences for that, even criminal liability. – Nate Eldredge Apr 17 at 21:27
  • I think what you are asking is being party of a contract without signing it, this is possible if you read the contract and acted upon its terms, you de facto agreed to the contract. – Ron Beyer Apr 17 at 21:51
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Can reading a something mean agree to to a contract?

Just reading — no.

Reading and acting as if you have agreed — yes. This is called "acceptance through conduct".

I had an employer deduct a small fee to process my payment, they argued that they were allowed to because it stated they would on the website I had to use for the job. Does this even form a contract?

Yes — because you read and continued to use the website.

librarian came up to me and pointed out a sign saying I had to pay before using the computer (which is uncommon where I live). Is there a contract formed by just having a sign? Hypothetically could the library sue me for not paying?

Provided that you read the sign and started using the computer — yes. However, because you did not see the sign, the library had failed to communicate the terms of the offer to you, which means there was no contract. However to however, if you continue using the computer even after the librarian tells you that you have to pay, you now accept the offer through conduct. In this case, the library could sue you for damages should you not pay.

if there was a sign on the door to a private building saying you have to pay $20 to enter, if you didn't read the sign and entered, could the owner demand $20 from you?

If the sign was so conspicuous that no reasonable person would have missed it — yes (because you should have read it and then you entered the building. But you could get away if you convinced the judge that you genuinely did not see/read the sign, for which you would have to have a plausible excuse (e.g. vision impairment).

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  • +1 - just to expand on the final paragraph, in some situations it will be hard to argue that you missed the sign (in the UK at least) unless it was fairly well hidden. The best example I can think of is a car park with parking fees printed on signs, where there is a general expectation that people should be aware that there could be signs. – JBentley Apr 18 at 14:49
  • "Reading and acting as if you have agreed — yes" what if the contract contains 90% terms you would be doing anyway, like "you will eat breakfast, wear clothes to work, and pay us $20". – Geitonogamy Apr 19 at 12:59
  • @Geitonogamy It's on you to read it thoroughly and pay attention to any fine print. If you are not sure you have read it all, just do not act as if you have agreed. – Greendrake Apr 19 at 13:07
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The thing in writing is basically an offer to enter into a contract. Some contracts can be accepted by your actions rather than by signing a document or stating that you accept the terms of the contract. When you take action in the face of a notice of the kind you describe, you have entered into a contract by taking an action, thereby accepting the written offer.

It isn't always entirely clear that actual knowledge of the notice is required, but at a minimum, the notice must be such that a reasonable person would have noticed it in order to be binding. In some websites, whether there are terms of service but only a very sophisticated computer user would be able to find them, the terms of service have been held to be not binding.

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Can reading a something mean agree to to a contract? Does this even form a contract?

No. The sole act of reading does not imply reader's agreement.

Both reading and declining to read merely reflect person A's intent that his decision regarding person B's terms & conditions (T&Cs) be an informed one. From that point on, person A is presumed to have made an informed decision regardless of whether or not he actually took the opportunity to become aware of the T&Cs.

The contract is formed only if person A somehow signals his acceptance of the T&Cs person B has de facto sought to inform him. At that point person A and person B become parties to that contract or agreement.

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