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Contract law at center of 'Simpsons' cast member dispute

When in a contractual relationship, it is important that the parties to the contract know and understand the rights and responsibilities of each party. There are basically two types of contracts, oral and verbal. Although verbal contracts are technically enforceable under contract law, it is rather hard to do because it has the potential to turn into a he said/she said type of situation. To avoid the confusion that accompanies an oral contract, parties in Detroit can obtain a solid written contract. Written contracts require offer, acceptance and consideration. Moreover, there must be mutual assent among the parties to the contract.

Even with a written contract, though, contractual relationships can lend themselves to disputes over business contracts. For example, actor Harry Shearer, who voices a number of characters on the animated series The Simpsons, is currently embroiled in a contractual dispute with his employer. The dispute isn't because the employer failed to live up to their end of the bargain or because Shearer failed to perform his job duties; this dispute has to do with Shearer not returning to the series. Apparently, Shearer has decided that he wants to be able to do other types of work. The employer of course would prefer to have Shearer back, which is why they attempted to resolve this matter during negotiations but so far to no avail.

A dispute can arise when two sides either do not agree or are at odds over what was originally decided. In the world of contracts, parties to the contract usually look to the court for clarification. The court tends to look at who failed to live up to their end of the contract but many other factors can be reviewed as well. Still, whether it is a contract for services, a realty contract, or an employment contract, each party has rights and responsibilities to which they must adhere.

Resolving disputes over a contract can be done formally or informally. Resolving contract disputes formally with the aid of an attorney can help parties ensure clarification as well as a legally solid resolution.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Harry Shearer's 'Simpsons' contract dispute plays out over Twitter," Scott Collins, May 15, 2015

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