Free US Law DictionaryBETA
Accord and Satisfaction
In contract law, accord and satisfaction is the purchase of the release from a debt obligation. The payment is typically less than what is owed and is not paid by the actual performance of the original obligation. The accord is the agreement to discharge the obligation and the satisfaction is the legal "consideration" which binds the parties to the agreement.
If a person is sued over an alleged debt they bear the burden of proving the affirmative defense of accord and satisfaction.
Accord and satisfaction is a settlement of an unliquidated debt. For example, a builder is contracted to build a homeowner a garage for $35,000. The contract called for $17,500 prior to starting construction, to disburse $10,000 during various stages of construction, and to make a final payment of $7,500 at completion. At completion, the homeowner complained about inferior work quality and refused to make the final payment. After a mutual settlement agreement, the builder accepted $4,000 as full payment. Thereby, a new contract was formed by offer, acceptance, and consideration. The consideration is that for a $3,500 savings, the homeowner gives up that which he is entitled, a well-constructed garage. The builder gives up his right to full price to avoid suit for inferior performance. When accord and settlement has occurred, the homeowner and builder have given up his right to sue for more money under this settlement agreement.
The accord agreement must be transacted on a new agreement. it must therefore have the essential terms of a contract, (parties, subject matter, time for performance, and consideration). If there is a breach of the accord there will be no "satisfaction" which will give rise to a breach of accord. In this instance the non-offending party has the right to sue under either the original contract or the accord agreement.