What Is the Difference Between a Contract and an Agreement?

Oct 19, 2018
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Ashlee Johnson

What is the difference between a contract and an agreement?

Understanding your rights and responsibilities in business arrangements is vital to the success of your business. It is important to understanding when an agreement creates legally enforceable obligations and when it does not. Read on to learn about the difference between a contract and an agreement.

What is an agreement?

An agreement is an understanding or arrangement reached between two or more parties. Agreement are generally not legally binding as they do not possess the requisite intention to be legally bound. An agreement does not necessarily need to be in writing and can be verbal.

Example: Jane and Tabitha agree to share a bike. They do not intend this agreement to create any legally binding obligations.

What is a contract?

A contract is an agreement which creates legally enforceable obligations between parties. This is the key difference between an agreement and a contract: the parties intend to enter into a legal relations. For the contract to be legally binding, both parties must evidence and intention to create legal relations. This can be express or implied from the circumstances.

For a contract to be binding under Australian law, certain elements must be satisfied. These include:

  • Offer
  • Acceptance
  • Consideration
  • Intention
  • Certainty
  • Capacity
  • Formalities

There is a strong presumption for agreements made in the context of business to be legally binding, however this is a rebuttable presumption.

Example: Maya and Anwar own and operate a grocery store. They sign a contract with their wholesale goods supplier for regular deliveries of certain goods. Both parties intend to be legally bound by this contract.


If you are considering entering into a legally binding relationship with another party, it is a good idea to seek advice from a contracts lawyer. LawPath can connect you with a contract lawyer through our Lawyer Directory who can assist you in understanding the legal implications of any contract you enter.

LawPath also has a number of easily customisable documents which can support the contracting needs of your business.

Don't know where to start?

Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

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