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The Santa Clause and Foisted Contracts

We were watching the Santa Clause the other day, the 1994 Tim Allen movie. It raises an interesting legal question. In that movie, the main character, Scott Calvin startles Santa Claus who was on the roof of his house in the process of delivering presents. Santa unfortunately falls off the roof to his untimely doom. Santa's body has a card which says if anything happens to Santa, whoever is responsible is supposed to put on Santa's suit, and the reindeer would know what to do. Scott Calvin puts on the suit and finishes Santa's deliveries, but without reading the fine print on the card, which says if you put on the Suit, you assume all of Santa's responsibilities permanently. The head elf Bernard describes a "clause" as the last line of the contract. That is untrue- a clause is a section of a contract, not just the last line.

So is the Santa Clause Enforceable under Alberta law? We make no comment as to any other North-Pole specific laws which might apply.

In order to have a binding contract, you need to have a meeting of the minds as to the terms, an offer, an acceptance and something of value flowing to enforce the contract. Interestingly though, a foisted unilateral contract (i.e where one person says if you do this we have a binding contract) is not binding unless the other party agrees to the terms. The Court in Alberta v Greter, 2016 ABQB 293 had this to say at paragraph 15:

...First, contract law does not permit a person to ‘foist' an obligation on another party: Silver’s Garage Ltd v Bridgewater (Town), 1970 CanLII 196 (SCC), [1971] SCR 577 at 596, 17 DLR (3d) 1. In contract silence does not mean consent or agreement: Felthouse v Bindley(1862), 11 CB (NS) 869, 142 ER 1037 (Ex Ch).

The Santa Clause is a foisted, unilateral contract, and therefore not binding. If you wish to discuss the law of foisting, please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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