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What does Legally Binding Mean?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Legally binding simply means that one agrees with the terms under a written or spoken contract to behave in certain ways. The terms and conditions of such a contract can either prohibit or define appropriate behavior under the agreement. Violation of terms in this type of agreement can either void the contract, or cause legal repercussions.

For example, when one signs a one-year lease for an apartment, one enters into a legally binding agreement with the landlord. The agreement may specify things such as the tenant’s responsibilities when the apartment is vacated. The tenant may have to clean the carpets or the whole apartment in order to get back his or her deposit for example.

Further, the one-year lease is legally binding to the tenant in terms of staying in the same apartment for the year. Unless the landlord violates some aspect of the contract, like failing to provide necessary repairs, the tenant is obligated not to move during the year contract. Breaking the lease might result in fees, paying the full year’s rent if the apartment is not rented again, or other terms set forward by the legally binding contract.

Using certain types of software, or websites may also require one to agree to terms and conditions. Recently, most US courts have ruled that any agreement to terms and conditions on the Internet is legally binding. Therefore, if one violates the terms and conditions of the agreement, one is essentially tied up legally to whatever one agreed to in the first place. Using a computer program legally binds one, in many cases, to not duplicating the program. It may also absolve the company of damages if the program in some way harms the computer or one’s self.

Entering into a marriage is another form of a legally binding agreement. People who enter the marriage under false pretenses, may void this agreement. Essentially however, people who marry are bound legally to maintain the marriage state. In order to end a marriage, one must go to court and apply for a divorce to void the marriage contract. Until the contract is voided, a person is legally bound not to marry someone else for example, since in most countries, marriage can only occur with one person at a time.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a MyLawQuestions contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon992359 — On Sep 02, 2015

Can I remove names from my will who I have made money beneficiaries without consulting an attorney if I have it legally notarized.

By Annyang — On Nov 21, 2012

Doug has just started a new business as an IT consultant. His client base (number of clients) is growing and he decides he needs more start up capital (another $30,000) so he can buy better equipment. This would mean he could do work for bigger and better firms, which pay more as well.

He approaches a bank, which agrees to give him a 3 month short loan of $15,000, at a 12 percent interest rate. Doug agrees to pay interest on it.

Base on the case study above, does Doug have a legally binding contract with the bank? Identify and discuss all elements.

By anon217521 — On Sep 25, 2011

I sold an older model car to a guy whom was made aware of known mechanical issues. The guy viewed the car and test drove it prior to purchasing. On the day of purchase, he brought a "mechanic" with him to verify the mechanical issues that I had stated. The mechanic then confirmed that everything was okay and they left with car and keys that day.

However, because I lost the title, we agreed and signed a statement saying that he would pay half of the payment up front and the other half once the title came in. Just two days after leaving with the vehicle, I spoke with the guy and he is now stating that the vehicle's head and gasket are blown. He also stated that he removed the thermostat on the vehicle, which I had already told him that needed to be replaced. He drove the car without the thermostat inside and afterwards took it to a mechanic's shop where he took the engine apart to save on labor for the mechanic to say that the head and gasket were blown.

He is now trying to back out of the deal. I am in need of immediate help.

By anon138546 — On Jan 01, 2011

My son and his girlfriend rented an apartment on a year lease. She moved out and took everything! Does she still have to pay half of the rent since she is still on the lease. Worried Mom

By anon124064 — On Nov 04, 2010

I moved into an apartment and signed a lease for a rent amount of $1400. We received a copy of the fully executed lease in the mail. However in our application to rent the apartment the rent amount was stated as $1450. They now want us to sign a new lease for the rent amount of $1450. Are we legally obligated to sign the new lease? Or are they legally obligated to stand by the fully executed lease agreement?

By anon58167 — On Dec 30, 2009

you can end any contract, you just risk getting sued for breach of contract.

By l1z — On Jun 30, 2009

i was unsure of a document that i signed so i just used my initial and my last name instead of signing my full name. is that document legally binding?

By KeraNique — On Jun 26, 2009

I have a one year lease(from:aug 2008) that states that I should pay hydro and gas...the landlord told me that they would contact the utility company and that I should not...We received a bill for hydro not long after we moved in but none for the gas...eight months(may 2009) later the landlord is asking for back gas payment of over $1000...Also the months they are asking for are from October 2008 to March 2009...which doesn't make any sense since we moved in august...they don't even know why it says October.

What are my chances of winning a case based on the fact that they were paying a monthly bill to the utility company without notifying us or contacting the company like they said they would?

By anon29345 — On Mar 31, 2009

I signed my sisters name on a contract to enter into a lease. I was never told I would have 5 days to bring in $1500, plus $300 in order for them to do a background check. I was advised that they will claim the money. What can I do?

By anon23415 — On Dec 24, 2008

If I have an Ebay account that was some how accessed while I wasn't in town, Am I still held accountable for paying for the items that were bid on? I know it states its a legally binding contract but I had no control over the outcome. I contacted the seller and let them know of the situation, but seller continued to obligate me to pay for these items. I asked repeatedly if there is any way we can come to an agreement, being as I have no way of even paying for this items. Seller persisted for me to pay, I have already received A Non payment strike from Ebay closing the case. Now the seller took it to a whole new level filing a small claims court case against me. I would really appreciate some feedback.

By e1101 — On Nov 03, 2008

I am trying to end an agreement with a company right now called NDI. My wife signed a contract a few years back that is a life time membership with NDI which gives her and now "us" discounts on stuff. I opened her bill and realized we still have 1200 of the 1600 dollar membership fee to pay and she has already paid over 1000 but interest on this is terrible. I have tried to just cancel this membership because we have never used the services provided. Also I stated that I am not looking for a refund and would be willing to pay a cancellation charge. They state "This is a legally binding contract that can't ever be canceled." So my question is not so much about weather it is binding, but more about what is the law on ending contracts. Is it possible if both parties are willing, or is it not legally enable. Thanks for your help.

By anon14037 — On Jun 09, 2008

i rented a flat, and moved out after 9 months. however on leaving, the owner refused to give back the deposit on the flat till i paid a "service charge" of 25 pounds per month.

i agreed to pay only after getting the owner to sign a contract saying he will pay all further bills from now on. a year after i have received a bill from the local council demanding council tax payments, for my time in manchester. during my stay i did not receive any council tax bill under my name. should not the owner be liable for this bill?

By anon12613 — On May 10, 2008

I live in scotland and and have bought my house i live in 4 in a block 2 upper 2 lower cottages 2 homeowners and two tenants. the tenants are gha owner property and the glasgow housing association want to do improvement works to the property however homeowners need to have a vote. we did, i chaired the meeting and voted against the work they told us the vote was legally binding on all parties we were told the vote taken was final. however, a homeowner now decides he wants the work done they say they can go ahead even though the decision was originally against, he changed his mind after 7 mths. how can this be so does legally binding mean nothing

By vagnew — On May 05, 2008

If you signed a contract when you were under 18 years of age, that contract is not valid. Most contracts cannot be enforced when signed by a minor.

By anon5281 — On Nov 19, 2007

i signed a contract for a gym and i want to get out of it but they say i can't, only up to 10 days after the contract is signed can i do that. BUT i was not 18 when i signed it i was 17 and they had no sign of proper parental consent, no note, no verbal agreement, nothing. So would i have a case? to get this contract ended? because as i have been reading you must be 18 the legal age of consent to truly be able to sign a contract. I am however 18 now but there was still another 3 or 4 months then when i signed it. please reply back thanks..

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a MyLawQuestions contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
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