letter of intent

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A letter of intent (LOI or LoI, and sometimes capitalized as Letter of Intent in legal writing, but only when referring to a specific document under discussion) is a document outlining the understanding between two or more parties which understanding they intend to formalize in a legally binding agreement. The concept is similar to a heads of agreement, term sheet or memorandum of understanding. Such outlined agreements may be merger and acquisition transaction agreements, joint venture agreements, real property lease agreements and several other categories of agreements that may govern material transactions.
LOIs resemble short, written contracts, but are usually in tabular form and not binding on the parties in their entirety. Many LOIs, however, contain provisions that are binding, such as those governing non-disclosure, governing law, exclusivity or covenants to negotiate in good faith. An LOI may sometimes be interpreted by a court of law as binding the parties to it if it too-closely resembles a formal contract and does not contain clear disclaimers.A letter of intent may be presented by one party to another party and subsequently negotiated before execution (or signature). If carefully negotiated, an LOI may serve to protect both parties to a transaction. For example, a seller of a business may incorporate what is known as a non-solicitation provision, which would restrict the buyer's ability to hire an employee of the seller's business should the two parties not be able to close the transaction. On the other hand, an LOI may protect the buyer of a business by expressly conditioning its obligation to complete the transaction if it is unable to secure financing for the transaction.

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