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What are my rights under a contract I have signed?

What is a contract?

A contract is an agreement between two parties where one party agrees to do something for the 2nd party in return for the 2nd party giving them something.

For a consumer, a contract is nearly always created where the consumer agrees to pay a company an amount of money in return for the company agreeing to provide them with a good or service.

What obligations do I have under the contract?

A contract creates a legal obligation on the part of each party to complete its part of the agreement that has been made.

A contract can be created by oral agreement between the parties. However, most contracts that you enter will be in writing. It is important that you take the time to read the terms and conditions of your contract carefully. These terms and conditions set out what your rights and obligations are under your contract.

What should I look for in a contract?

You must read the terms and conditions (Fine Print).

The three key things you have to look for in a contract are:

(a) What do I have to do under the contract?

(b) What does the other party have to do under the contract?

(c) What is not included in the contract?

What happens if I don’t understand the terms and conditions?

If you do not understand the terms and conditions of a contract, you do not have to sign the contract right away.

It is important to ask a family member or friend or the company what any terms or conditions that you do not understand mean. If you still do not understand the contract terms, it may not be a good idea to sign the contract.

I have signed the contract, what happens if I want to get out of the contract?

Your contract will have a clause that sets out the circumstances when you are able to terminate or leave a contract. Terminating a contract early will nearly always come with a fee that you have to pay as a penalty.

Simply changing your mind is not a valid reason for leaving or terminating a contract. However, if the company does not provide you with the good or service that you agreed to under the contract this can be a valid reason for terminating the contract. You should seek legal advice from Legal Aid Queensland 1300 65 11 88 or a Community Legal centre before you terminate the contract.

If you enter a contract and discover that:

(a) The company misrepresented the goods or services they were providing under the contract.

(b) The company misrepresented what legal rights you have under the contract.

(c) The goods were not fit for their purpose.

(d) The goods were not of acceptable quality.

It may be that the company has not met its obligations under the Australian Consumer Law Guarantees. You should seek legal advice from Legal Aid Queensland 1300 65 11 88 or a Community Legal centre about your rights to a repair, refund or replacement of the goods or services.

What happens if I don’t pay?

If you do not pay the amount of money under the contract or terminate the contract without a valid legal reason, the company may be able to take you to Court to try and recover the unpaid money from you.

If this happens please seek legal advice from Legal Aid Queensland 1300 65 11 88 or a Community Legal centre about your rights.

What happens if I am in financial hardship and can’t pay?

Finance companies have a legal obligation to consider a request for financial hardship. (See Financial Hardship factsheet.) However, not every company has a legal obligation to help you out if you are in financial hardship and need reduced payments under the contract.

If you don’t make payments or reach an agreement to make payments, then a default may be listed on your credit report which will make it very difficult for you to obtain credit for 5 years.

If you are in financial trouble, you should approach the company and ask for help. If they do not assist you, you should seek the assistance of a financial counsellor or Legal Aid Queensland.

Where can I get help if I have a problem with my contract?

You can get help by calling:

· Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88

· a financial counsellor on 1800 007 007.

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