Is My Legal Form Valid and Enforceable (Part 1): Introduction

Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. If you need legal advice with respect to drafting, negotiating, or resolving a dispute concerning an agreement, you should seek professional assistance (e.g. make a post on Dynamic Legal Forms). We have Toronto, Ottawa, Brampton, Hamilton, and other Ontario family law lawyers registered on Dynamic Legal Forms who can offer information, advice, and assistance with respect to your agreement.

As part of our forthcoming legal forms + guides release, we will be including a DL Guide that addresses the issue of the validity and enforceability of legal forms. So you’ve purchased a do-it-yourself legal form and you’re naturally wondering: “If I use this legal form instead of having a lawyer draft it, will it be valid and enforceable?” The answer to that question, as it usually is in these situations, is going to be: “IT DEPENDS”. Think of it like this…You download a template. It is incomplete. You read it over and finish it. Perhaps you even add a few provisions of your own to take into account your particular circumstances. Then you and all the other parties sign it and deliver it to each other. So, is it a valid and enforceable contract? Believe it or not, this simple situation still results in the answer: “IT DEPENDS”.

So what does it depend on? Well, under contract law, for a contract to be valid, there are a number of basic requirements concerning the SUBSTANCE of the contract (i.e. the terms and conditions of the actual contract) and the PROCESS of how the contract was entered into (e.g. was it entered into fairly and freely). If there are issues with either the SUBSTANCE or the PROCESS of how it was entered into, then the contract can be challenged in whole or in part. In what is to follow, we’ll be touching on only SOME of the more important issues. Bear in mind, however, that there ARE MANY OTHER WAYS a contract can be challenged outside of its terms and conditions and the way it was entered into. For example, a statute may have minimal requirements that need to be met in order for a legal form to be valid. For example, the Ontario Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 states that witnesses are required for the signing of a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and specifies who cannot be a witness. That’s just one tiny example. At the end of the day, you should always speak to a lawyer about your particular situation to mitigate against potential challenges. So here we go…

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