An agreement is a manifestation of mutual assent by two or more persons to one another.
Agreements are often associated with contracts; however, "agreement" generally has a wider meaning than "contract," "bargain," or "promise. " A contract is a form of an agreement that requires additional elements, such as consideration.
Jurisdictions differ on their use of "agreement" in denoting a legally enforceable contract. For example, the Supreme Court of Washington has stated that a contract is a promise or set of promises which is protected under the law, whereas an agreement is a manifestation of mutual assent which does not necessarily carry legal implications. However, in Pennsylvania, an agreeemnt has been defined as a enforceable contract wherein the parties intend to enter into a binding agreeement. However the agreeement's essential terms need to be certain enough to act as a basis when determining whether there has been a breach.
Additionally, an agreement to agree is not enforceable. In California, the distinction between a final agreement and an agreeement to agree is dependent on the objective intent of the parties. Where an agreement is written, courts will determine the intent of the parties through the plain meaning of the words of the instrument.
In criminal law, the inchoate offense of conspiracy requires an agreement to commit an unlawful act. An agreement in this context does not need to be explicit; rather, a meeting of the minds can rather be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case.
[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]