Can a contract be cancelled if I was tricked into signing it?

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Can a contract be cancelled if I was tricked into signing it?

I feel so stupid for getting into this mess, but here are the details Someone from a company in Germany came to the office, saying that they were updating the contact details of all the businesses in our particular field for their register, and they just needed me to sign off to confirm that they did indeed have the right contact information for us. The form had a section to fill in about a dollar value and that this contract would be for the next 5 years. However, the man told me that this was not applicable to us because we were being featured in the register for free. This was not the first time that I had seen companies use generic forms where only parts of it were applicable. It seems that after I signed off on the form, he filled in a dollar value of $1,600 that our company would have to pay for inclusion in the register, and they would pursue legal action if we did not comply. I should have been smarter. I admit that. Is there anything I can do to cancel the contract even though my signature is on it, since they got me to sign it under false pretenses?

Asked on July 26, 2017 under Business Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A contract may not be modified *after* being signed, so he can't add in a dollar amount after you signed it; any changes, modifications, additions, etc. made after you signed it are ineffective (will not be enforced) if you did not agree or consent to them.
Furthermore, lying to someone about what what you would do or what they would owe, or about the purpose of a contract, to get them to sign may be fraud, and fraud is grounds to void, or invalidate, a contract. A contract is based on mutual agreement; if the other side lies to you so that you think it is X while they know it is Y, there is no mutual agreement and no enforceable contract. Here, he lied about the payment term (about what it would cost); that appears to have been fraud.
Therefore, there appear to be at least two legal defenses which could be raised (e.g. in a lawsuit, if your company is sued) to being liable, or responsible, for the money he added to the contract after the fact.


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