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Unilateral Contract: Example – Definition – Explanation

What Is a Unilateral Contract?

Unilateral ContractA unilateral contract is a one-sided offer where the offer creates an obligation only if it is fulfilled by the performance of a specified act. The offeror commits to remit payment only following the occurrence of that certain act. In general, unilateral contracts are most commonly utilized when an offeror has an open request for payment for specific conduct. An insurance policy contract, which is frequently partially unilateral, is an example of a unilateral contract. The offeror is the sole party having a contractual responsibility in a unilateral contract. One-sided contracts are the most common type of unilateral contract.

A unilateral contract is just as legally binding as a bilateral contract, except that only one person is making a commitment. The only way to accept a unilateral contract is to perform and finish the specified work. The offeree is under no obligation to do the act specified in the unilateral agreement.

Unilateral Contract – A Closer Look

The offeror’s obligation is specified in a unilateral contract. In other words, the offeror agrees to pay for certain activities that might be open requests, random, or voluntary. Contract law considers unilateral contracts to be enforceable. However, legal concerns normally do not arise until the offeree asserts his or her eligibility for compensation.  The payment is solely based on acts or events. As a result, legal contestation typically concerns situations in which the providing party refuses to pay the proposed sum. The finding of contract breach would therefore be based on whether or not the contract’s terms were clear.  Also, whether or not the offeree is entitled to payment based on the contract’s provisions and the specific performance.

Unilateral Contract – Types of Offers

Unilateral contracts are often one-sided and do not impose major obligations on the offeree. One of the most popular forms of unilateral contracts is an open request or an insurance policy.

Open Request

In a free market, offerors can utilize unilateral contracts to make wide or optional requests. The request is only paid for if particular requirements are satisfied. The offeror is expected to pay if an individual or individuals performs the stated act. A typical sort of unilateral contract request is a reward. In criminal proceedings, a reward may be paid for providing critical information regarding the case. Reward money can be given to a single person or a group of people. The obligation exists for anyone who provides information that fits the specified requirements.

For example, assume you offer a friend $5,000 to paint your house’s exterior. This is a unilateral contract, which means you have no need to pay if the house is not painted. Your friend, on the other hand, is under no obligation to paint your house. If he or she does so, the contract goes into effect and is legally binding.  You made the open offer, and if the house is painted, you need to pay up.


Insurance plans have the features of a unilateral contract. In the case of an insurance policy, the insurer agrees to pay if specific acts occur.  Of course, it must be in accordance with the conditions of the contract’s coverage. In an insurance contract, the offeree pays a premium determined by the insurer.  In return, the payment keeps the plan active and eligible for an insurance payout if a defined event happens.

Insurance firms employ statistical probability.  This lets them accurately calculate the reserves required to cover the claims of their insured clients. Some insurance cases may never involve an incident resulting in the insurer’s obligation.  However, extreme events may necessitate the insurance company to pay out enormous sums of money.

Unilateral Contract vs. Bilateral Contract

Contracts can be unilateral or bilateral. Only the offeror is obligated in a unilateral contract. Both parties agree to an obligation in a bilateral contract. In general, the key distinction between unilateral and bilateral contracts is the requirement for both parties to fulfill a reciprocal commitment.

  • A unilateral contract — This is a sort of contract in which one party, referred to as the offeror, makes an offer.  The submission can be to another individual, organization, or the broader public. To get whatever the offeror offers, the offeree must first execute the act or service specified in the offer. the unilateral offer contains no guarantees made between parties. Instead, the offeror expects the offeree to execute an act, respond to a request, or deliver a service.  However, choosing whether to accept the offer is voluntary with no obligation on the part of the offeree.
  • A bilateral contract – has established agreements and commitments made between two parties.  Bilateral contracts often contain equal obligations from both the offeror and the offeree. Every time you make a purchase at your favorite store, order a meal at a restaurant, see your doctor, or even borrow a book from the library, you are engaging in this sort of agreement. In each case, you’ve committed to another person or party a specific action in response to that person’s or party’s activity.

Both unilateral and bilateral contracts can be broken or breached. A breach is a failure to meet the contract requirements without a legally sufficient justification resulting in a violation of a contractual obligation.  One may breach a contract by denying or disclaiming a promise, failing to perform a promise, or interfering with another party’s performance.  To demonstrate a contract breach in court, you must first establish:

  • A valid contract – Existence of the contract
  • Failure to perform – Breach of the contract
  • Damage caused – The loss suffered as a result of this breach
  • Responsibility – The loss is because of the challenged party

Contracts of either type can be enforced in court. A bilateral contract is immediately binding.  However. a unilateral contract cannot be enforced until the activity at issue is completed. The enforcement of a unilateral contract can be difficult.  Especially, when legal terminology like offer, consideration, and acceptance are involved. A business attorney can help with legal concerns that develop as a result of a unilateral contract. He or she can clarify if you are bound by an existing unilateral contract.

Up Next: What Is a Normal Good?

Normal GoodA normal good is one that has an increase in demand owing to an increase in consumer income. In other words, a rise in wages leads to an increase in demand for normal goods.  On the other hand, a decrease in pay or a layoff leads to a decrease in demand. A consumer’s income has a direct link with the demand for a normal good. Consumer behavior patterns determine the demand and increased wages cause changes in consumer behavior. As income rises, customers may be able to purchase products that were previously beyond reach.

In such a circumstance, demand for these items rises as a result of their consumer appeal. It might be explained by superior product quality, more usefulness, or a more distinguished socioeconomic status.  For example, many luxury goods appeal to this elevated level of status. Economists use income elasticity of demand to assess how demand responds to changes in consumer income or purchasing power. It is computed by dividing the change in demand for a product by the change in income. Income elasticity of demand is frequently used to distinguish between a normal, inferior, and luxury item.  The same measure helps to estimate sales during periods of rising or falling income.

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