Contract Signing Process
There are three different units on campus that can assist with contract review and signing:
ConnectionPoint/Enterprise Procurement: provides assistance with the purchase of goods or services. This includes tendering contracts and requests for proposals, in addition to assisting with contract review and signing.
Research Excellence and Innovation (REI): assists researchers with the review, negotiation and signing of research funding contract and grants. It also assists with the commercialization of discoveries through patent registration and negotiation of licensing agreements for intellectual property owned by the university.
- Legal Office: provides assistance with contracts that are not handled by either unit above. Examples of contracts handled through the legal office include non-research funding agreements, student placement agreements, fee-for-service contracts, and leases. Contracts going through the legal office for review and signature should be submitted along with a completed Due Diligence Form to the attention of the Manager, Contracts and Legal Services.
What is a contract?A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. An agreement must meet certain legal requirements to be a contract, with the main components being:
- The parties must be able to legally enter into contracts. As such they must be natural persons, corporations or other entities with the ability to enter into contracts (examples include governments and Indigenous bands).
- There must be an exchange of value. This is often an exchange of money for goods or services, however money does not have to be involved for a contract to be valid. As long as what is being exchanged has value a binding contract can be created. For example, mutual confidentiality agreements generally don’t involve money, however as each side values the promises to maintain confidentiality they can serve as the basis for a binding contract.
- Certainty/specificity of obligations. In order to be a binding contract the obligations of each party must be outlined clearly enough that it can be determined objectively if each party has lived up to those obligations.
I have a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed. Does it have to be signed according to the Signing Authority Policy?
The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends. Generally speaking a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is intended to describe non-binding agreements between parties. These are often used to facilitate discussions between parties that will eventually result in a contract, but haven’t quite made it to that stage. For more information, please see Information on MOUs.
Is there a minimum monetary threshold for contracts?
A common question is whether low-value agreements are still ‘contracts’. The answer is yes as there is no minimum monetary threshold for a contract. Non-monetary promises can form the basis of a binding contract.