What is Consensus Ad Idem?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 01 March 2020
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The Latin term consensus ad idem, an “agreement of the minds,” is used to describe a situation where people fully understand a contract and their role in it. Consensus or agreement on a contract is considered a necessary condition of a valid contract in many legal systems, under the argument that people who are not aware of or do not understand a contract cannot be held responsible for it. In a written contract, the presence of clauses spelling out the specifics of the contract is used to show that a consensus ad idem was reached during the development of the contract, as anyone who signs the contract should have read and understood the terms.

When people develop a contract, an offer is extended and accepted, and the terms of the offer are worked out. This is the stage where the consensus ad idem comes in, as the parties to the contract discuss the specifics and the details, and focus on developing a contract all are satisfied with. The contract must include adequate consideration, something of value exchanged by all parties, and the capacity for consent must be demonstrated. The final qualification needed for legality is legality of the contract itself; the other conditions may be satisfied, but if the contract is for something illegal, it cannot stand up in court.


The concept of consensus ad idem has been a contentious one at times. Many people fail to read contracts closely when they sign them, and do not understand the concepts they are signing their names to. These individuals may argue that they did not fully understand the contract when it was signed, and cannot be held liable for breaches. However, signing a contract is also assumed in the legal community to indicate that someone read, understood, and renegotiated any unfavorable terms, so this defense may not be accepted.

People involved in transactions involving a contract should strive for a consensus ad idem to ensure they understand what is expected of them while also learning about their legal rights in relation to the other parties on the contract. If a contract is hard to understand, a lawyer can be asked for advice. People can ask to take home copies of contracts for review and can request time to fully comprehend a contract before signing. Coercive situations where people are encouraged to sign documentation without fully reviewing it may violate the conditions for legality in some jurisdictions.


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Post 4

I signed a legally binding contract when I became employed. The contract was short and to the point.

It basically stated that they had the right to fire me at any time, and I had the right to quit at any time. I like this kind of contract, because it's great to know that you don't have to be stuck at a job if you start to hate it down the road.

I think this type of agreement made me be more polite and gracious when I did decide to leave. If I had been bound by law to stay a certain amount of time, I probably would have become very disgruntled.

Post 2

@shell4life - That is an unfortunate situation. I imagine it was probably your first contract in the music industry, and you didn't know the ropes.

Most music contracts do have time frames, though. Usually, the manager can earn money off of your work for two years after the agreed upon expiration date of the contract.

Has your contract expired yet? If you have gotten past the two-year post-contract payment time frame, you might be safe from any further legal action.

Post 1

Unfortunately, I reached a consensus ad idem with my manager when I signed a singing contract. A part of me wishes I hadn't understood what I was signing.

Though I was fully aware that in the contract, he asked for 25% of everything I made, I didn't become aware until later that 25% was higher than the normal percentage a manager gets. We were visiting a producer in Nashville, and my manager flat out lied and told him that he got 15% of my earnings. He did this because the producer would be taking a cut of his share rather than mine.

Well, it was too late to make a fuss about it, because I had signed the contract. Instead, I just quit working with him. He threatened to sue me, and though he might have won, he knew that I had no money. I had no job, and I had only gotten one gig with him.

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