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By definition, a unilateral contract, or one-sided contract is an agreement where only party one party, known as the offeror, makes a promise to another party, known as the offeree. Unlike a bilateral contract, where both parties sign an agreement, unilateral contracts are often standard. When the offeree (usually a customer) accepts a unilateral contract, they are asking the other party to perform (i.e. do what they are promising to do under the contract). In fact, the only way for a non-signing party (offerer) to accept a unilateral contract is by holding up their end of the bargain.
Common examples of a unilateral contract are website terms and conditions or privacy policies. In this type of agreement the company, or offeree is providing notice to a customer or user regarding their business practices, promising to uphold certain standards and, in turn asking the user to agree to those terms.
Unlike bilateral contracts, where there is likely to be some negotiation or redlining, unilateral contracts are often delivered as a boilerplate or standardized agreements. For this reason, the most efficient delivery and acceptance method to use a clickwrap agreement.
Clickwrap agreements are a simple and streamlined method of presenting legal terms. From an eCommerce or SaaS perspective, presenting legal terms as a clickwrap agreement during a customer’s purchase flow makes perfect sense. Customers fill their shopping cart, proceed to checkout, click to agree to the legal terms (that they probably didn’t read) and the order is fulfilled.
However, it’s not quite that simple. There’s more to capturing acceptance than just presenting terms. Too often we see businesses setting forth terms that get shot down in court because they forget to consider one small thing–a clickwrap agreement is a unilateral contract!
Businesses must set forth their terms in a manner that is in alignment with generally established rules for a unilateral contract.
While most companies use and think about clickwrap agreements for general website terms and conditions, any unilateral or standardized agreement can benefit from a clickwrap delivery method, replacing your typical PDF esignature tool.
Since clickwrap agreements prevent redlining and reduce time to sign these other agreements are ripe for digital transformation:
Ready to learn more about expanding your use of clickwrap agreements in your business or department? Check out our comprehensive guide. Departments of the Future: 45 ways to use clickwrap.