views updated May 14 2018


A change or alteration in existing materials.

Modification generally has the same meaning in the law as it does in common parlance. The term has special significance in the law of contracts and the law of sales.

The parties to a completed and binding contract are free to change the terms of the contract. Changes to a preexisting contract are called contract modifications. If the parties agree to modify the contract, the modification will be enforceable in a court of law.

A contract modification may be either written or oral, with some exceptions. An oral modification is unenforceable if the contract specifies that modifications must be in writing (United States ex rel. Crane Co. v. Progressive Enterprises, Inc., 418 F. Supp. 662 [E.D. Va. 1976]). As a general rule, a modification should be in writing if it increases or decreases the value of the contract by $500 or more.

In contracts between parties who are not merchants, a modification should be supported by some consideration, which is the exchange of value, or something to solidify an agreement. Courts impose this requirement to prevent fraud and deception in the modification of contracts. Consideration operates as evidence that the parties have agreed to the modification. Without the requirement of consideration, a party to a contract could declare that the contract should be modified or canceled whenever such a demand was advantageous.

In contracts between merchants, a modification need not be supported by consideration. Derived from article 2, section 209, of the uniform commercial code, this rule is designed to honor the intent of commercial parties without requiring the time-consuming technicalities of consideration.

Like any non-merchant, a merchant is free to reject a proposed modification, but a merchant may waive the right to reject a modification by failing to object to the modification. For example, if an electrician doing work as a subcontractor notifies the general contractor that the electrical work will be more expensive than anticipated, the general contractor may be obliged to pay for the extra expenses if she fails to object before the electrician begins the work. There must be a legitimate commercial reason for such a contract modification, and the modification must be reasonable in light of the standards within the particular industry. Courts are free to strike down contract modifications that are brought about by duress or bad faith.


Sales Law.


views updated May 14 2018

MODIFICATION. A term for the dependence of one grammatical unit on another, the less dependent unit being delimited or made more specific by the more dependent unit: the adjective good modifying the noun weather in the phrase good weather; the noun diamond modifying the noun mines in diamond mines; the adverb strikingly modifying the adjective handsome in strikingly handsome. A distinction is made between premodification (modifying by preceding) and post-modification (modifying by following). In diamond mines in South Africa, diamond is a premodifier and in South Africa is a post modifier. The example illustrates a phrase (here a prepositional phrase) used as a modifier (here a post-modifier of a noun). Clauses may also be modifiers in phrases, usually post-modifiers of nouns, such as the relative clause in ‘the bag that you are carrying’. The dependence of a subordinate clause on its superordinate clause is generally not described in terms of modification: the subordinate clause in ‘I know that you are there’ is not said to be a modifier. Some grammarians, however, use the term sentence modifier for adverbials (including adverbial clauses) that express a comment on the sentence or clause: fortunately in ‘Fortunately, no one was hurt’; in all probability in ‘In all probability, it is closed by now’; the since-clause in ‘Since you're here, you may as well make yourself useful.’ Although the distinction is obvious between such examples and clear instances of adverbials functioning as modifiers of verbs (such as ‘The band is playing too loudly’), there is no agreement on how to draw the line between sentence modifiers and verb modifiers or on how many relational categories to establish for adverbials. See JOURNALESE.


views updated May 21 2018

mod·i·fi·ca·tion / ˌmädəfəˈkāshən/ • n. the action of modifying something: the parts supplied should fit with little or no modification. ∎  a change made: there will be a number of modifications to the engines.