Is it safe to rip up a signed contract if the company gave me the original by mistake?

UPDATED: Aug 23, 2011

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Is it safe to rip up a signed contract if the company gave me the original by mistake?

My girlfriend and I visited a timeshare seminar. We were interested in the company’s offer but in the end we rejected the deal. The company then offered us a “sampler” that would allow us to pay some money and try a few vacation packages. We ended up signing up for this, but now we’re having second thoughts about the entire thing. Unfortunately the company has a no refund policy. The company is now harassing us because they gave us the original contracts instead of the copies. They want the originals back. Is it OK for us to rip up the paperwork? Would this void the contract?

Asked on August 23, 2011 Nevada


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, unfortunately ripping up the original in no way voids or terminates the contract. The paperwork evidences the parties' agreement; however, it is the act of coming to an agreement and either exchanging consideration (something of value) and/or promising to exchange consideration (e.g. when nothing changes hands on the spot) that creates the enforceable contract. Once the contract is created, what happens to its physical manifestations does not matter. (Consider: otherwise, *every* time a contract was inconvenient for the party holding the original(s), that party could get out of its legal obligations by using a paper shredder.) Ripping up the contract may be emotionally  satisfying, and if the other party did not keep its own copy(ies) may make it hard for the other company to prove the existence and terms of the contract, but that's a practical consideration; legally, it has no effect.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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