Legally binding simply means that one agrees with the terms under a written or spoken contract to behave in certain ways. The terms and conditions of such a contract can either prohibit or define appropriate behavior under the agreement. Violation of terms in this type of agreement can either void the contract, or cause legal repercussions.
For example, when one signs a one-year lease for an apartment, one enters into a legally binding agreement with the landlord. The agreement may specify things such as the tenant’s responsibilities when the apartment is vacated. The tenant may have to clean the carpets or the whole apartment in order to get back his or her deposit for example.
Further, the one-year lease is legally binding to the tenant in terms of staying in the same apartment for the year. Unless the landlord violates some aspect of the contract, like failing to provide necessary repairs, the tenant is obligated not to move during the year contract. Breaking the lease might result in fees, paying the full year’s rent if the apartment is not rented again, or other terms set forward by the legally binding contract.
Using certain types of software, or websites may also require one to agree to terms and conditions. Recently, most US courts have ruled that any agreement to terms and conditions on the Internet is legally binding. Therefore, if one violates the terms and conditions of the agreement, one is essentially tied up legally to whatever one agreed to in the first place. Using a computer program legally binds one, in many cases, to not duplicating the program. It may also absolve the company of damages if the program in some way harms the computer or one’s self.
Entering into a marriage is another form of a legally binding agreement. People who enter the marriage under false pretenses, may void this agreement. Essentially however, people who marry are bound legally to maintain the marriage state. In order to end a marriage, one must go to court and apply for a divorce to void the marriage contract. Until the contract is voided, a person is legally bound not to marry someone else for example, since in most countries, marriage can only occur with one person at a time.