The Indian Contract Act, 1872 lays down certain essential elements that must be present in a contract for it to be considered valid and legally enforceable.
These essential elements are:
1. Offer and Acceptance: The first essential element of a valid contract is an offer made by one party to another. The offer must be clear and unambiguous, and must indicate the intention of the offeror to enter into a contract. The second essential element is the acceptance of the offer by the other party. The acceptance must be unconditional, and must be communicated to the offeror.
2. Intention to Create Legal Relations: The parties to the contract must have an intention to create legal relations. This means that the parties must intend to be bound by the terms of the contract, and must not be entering into the contract as a mere social agreement.
3. Consideration: Consideration is the third essential element of a valid contract. Consideration refers to something of value given by one party to the other in exchange for the promise or performance of the other party. Consideration can be in the form of money, goods, services, or any other thing of value.
4. Capacity of Parties: The fourth essential element of a valid contract is the capacity of the parties to enter into a contract. This means that the parties must be competent to enter into a contract, and must not be minors, of unsound mind, or disqualified from entering into a contract by law.
5. Free Consent: The fifth essential element of a valid contract is free consent. This means that the parties must have freely and voluntarily consented to the terms of the contract, without any undue influence, coercion, fraud, misrepresentation, or mistake.
6. Lawful Object: The sixth essential element of a valid contract is that the object of the contract must be lawful. The object of the contract must not be illegal, immoral, or against public policy.
7. Certainty: The seventh essential element of a valid contract is certainty. The terms of the contract must be certain and definite. The terms must be clear and unambiguous, and there should not be any uncertainty or vagueness in the terms.
8. Possibility of Performance: The eighth essential element of a valid contract is that the performance of the contract must be possible. If the performance of the contract is impossible, the contract will be considered void.
9. Legal Formalities: The ninth essential element of a valid contract is compliance with legal formalities. Some contracts are required by law to be in writing, such as contracts for the sale of immovable property or contracts that cannot be performed within one year.