‘A Meeting of Minds’
A ‘meeting of the minds’ is a cliché often employed to suggest a pair of parties seem to be in a close agreement about something. Informally it is a useful abbreviation of a generally solid consensus. However, there are occasions where this term can be very much more specific and focused, particularity in cases with any form of legal or contractual consequence such as marriages, divorces, membership applications etc. in personal contexts or commercial contracts, employment offers, loan terms etc. in business contexts.
They can apply to two individuals or two ‘parties’ made up of several individuals or commercial ventures represented as a common cause and identity for the purposes of the agreement. In this blog we will examine the formal form of a ‘meeting of the minds’ i.e. one with legal or commercial enforced consequences and try to clarify the contexts, consequences and expectations you should consider if ever entering a meeting which requires a ‘meeting of minds’ to extract an outcome.
A formal ‘meeting of the minds’ must occur for the agreement to become valid and (in most contexts, legally) binding. The concept usually requires the specification of a time at which involved parties acknowledge complete understanding and acceptance of the terms and conditions of the (in business contexts, contracted) agreement.
A formal ‘meeting of the minds’ is usually made tacit by means of the signatures of both parties included in the document or in the case of oral contracts, with a verbal agreement of the facts of the situation, preferable witnessed by a third party as proof and validation of the agreement.
Nevertheless, despite having entered into such agreements with assumed mutual assent between involved parties, the agreement or contract could still be challenged if afterwards there was suspected fraud, undue influence, duress, intentional misrepresentation or mutual mistake is proven (maybe not so if there are ambiguous terms, that one party misunderstood and these misunderstanding were not highlighted by them during negotiation in which case in a ‘caveat emptor’ sense the agreement would still stand).
In the presence of any of the instances mentioned above, the contract may be rendered as void because in such cases, no true ‘meeting of the minds’ would be considered still valid as there is a genuine non-alignment between the two parties despite the contractually expressed understanding of the terms and conditions.
An agreement can also be voided, and a ‘meeting of the minds’ could be considered incomplete if both parties later discover and, importantly, both acknowledge that both or one of them has genuinely interpreted the agreement differently.
So be very awake and focused if you attend any meeting where such assumption of a ‘meeting of the minds’ might end in a binding outcome. Marry in haste, repent at leisure’ can apply equally to personal, commercial and business relationships: be sure of the minds you aim to meet with.