The phrase “meeting of the minds” is a concept in contract law that represents not only the collective agreement between involved parties but also their comprehension of the terms and conditions. Also called a mutual agreement, mutual assessment, and consensus ad idem, this concept is one of the fundamental elements of an enforceable contract.
Understanding Meeting of the Minds
It is important to highlight that a meeting of the mind must occur for the agreement to become valid and legally binding. The concept generally denotes a time at which involved parties acknowledge complete understanding and acceptance of the terms and conditions of the contract.
However, the complete understanding and acceptance from involved parties do not need to occur simultaneously. Nevertheless, depending on the kind of the contract, a meeting of the minds is typically consummated with signatures affixed in the document or in the case of oral contracts, with a verbal agreement or the facts of the situation.
The presence of a so-called meeting or mutual assent between involved parties is not absolute despite consummation. Specifically, a contract could be challenged due to fraud, undue influence, duress, mutual mistake, or misrepresentation.
Proving Inexistence of a Mutual Assent
In the presence of any of the instances mentioned above, no meeting of the minds has occurred because if there is an unalignment between the two parties despite expressed understanding and acceptance of the terms and conditions. The contract may be rendered as void.
A party can also challenge the validity of agreement if it proves that it made mistakes or the other party was aware of those mistakes. However, it would be challenging to use this defense if there are ambiguous terms, a party misunderstood the terms and these misunderstanding did not surface during negotiation, and the contract remains signed by both parties.
It is interesting to note that agreement can easily be voided, and a meeting of the minds could be rendered inexistent if both parties know and acknowledge that both or one of them has interpreted the contract or its specific components and clauses differently.