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Contracts: An Introduction

Contracts can be confusing to get your head around. This information sheet is an introduction to contract basics. 

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Contracts can be confusing to get your head around. This information sheet is an introduction to contract basics.

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A contract is a legally enforceable understanding between two or more persons or legal entities (the contracting parties). The essence of a contract is that it consists of an exchange of promises (“something for something”) that is legally enforceable. The “something” can be money, services, property, rights… almost anything.

A ‘contract’ describes an agreement that meets the legal requirements to be enforced as binding on the parties by a court of law – offer, acceptance, consideration and intention (discussed in more detail below).

While ‘agreement’ is often used as a synonym for ‘contract’, some agreements are unenforceable because they lack an essential element to be a legally binding contract.

Throughout life you will enter into thousands of contracts without even realising it. For example: getting on a bus; buying ticket to attend a concert; subscribing to a pay TV service; or downloading music from iTunes, are activities that involve entering into a contract. The terms and conditions of the use of the service may simply be referred to on the back of the ticket, or may be a written agreement you are expected to sign, or you ‘clickthru’ a button on a website that has the legal effect that you are accepting terms and conditions – whether you choose to read or choose to ignore the terms and conditions. Read on to learn about the basics of contracts in the arts.

For more information see the Arts Law information sheet Contracts: a glossary of jargon and the Arts Law information sheet Contracts: getting it write/right for information on some contractual pitfalls, when terms are implied in contracts and the rectification of omissions of terms.

Need more help?

If you have questions about any of the topics discussed above please contact Arts Law.


The information in this information sheet is general. It does not constitute, and should be not relied on as, legal advice. The Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) recommends seeking advice from a qualified lawyer on the legal issues affecting you before acting on any legal matter.

While Arts Law tries to ensure that the content of this information sheet is accurate, adequate or complete, it does not represent or warrant its accuracy, adequacy or completeness. Arts Law is not responsible for any loss suffered as a result of or in relation to the use of this information sheet. To the extent permitted by law, Arts Law excludes any liability, including any liability for negligence, for any loss, including indirect or consequential damages arising from or in relation to the use of this information sheet.

© Arts Law Centre of Australia

You may photocopy this information sheet for a non-profit purpose, provided you copy all of it, and you do not alter it in any way. Check you have the most recent version by contacting us on (02) 9356 2566 or tollfree outside Sydney on 1800 221 457.

The Arts Law Centre of Australia has been assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Australian Government - Australia Council for the Arts

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