A contract was a formal agreement between two or more entities. It legally binds all parties involved to fulfill their part of the contract.
Contracts could be written down or agreed upon verbally. After capturing Lieutenant Commander Data in 2366 and attempting to add him to his collection, Kivas Fajo remarked to the android that, "You belong in Starfleet about as much as I belong in a verbal contract." (TNG: "The Most Toys")
The Contract of Ardra was a contract detailing a supposed agreement between the people of Ventax II and Ardra, in which she would grant them a thousand years of peace, after which she would enslave the entire population. In response to the idea of enslavement, an impostor posing as Ardra stated that it was "just a standard contract with an unusually long term." During a discussion of the matter by the staff of the USS Enterprise-D, the possibility was considered that the impostor might be Q, but Captain Jean-Luc Picard noted that Q wouldn't be bothered with contracts. He later speculated that the contract was devised by the planet's leaders at the time as a means to create a myth that would save their dying planet. (TNG: "Devil's Due")
As part of an effort to mediate a family dispute between Lieutenant Worf and his son Alexander Rozhenko in 2368, Counselor Deanna Troi proposed a 'contract' in which the two would agree to responsibilities to each other. Lwaxana Troi doubted the efficacy of such an agreement, noting that "Contracts are usually between people who don't really trust one another." (TNG: "Cost of Living")
In 2378, The Doctor entered into a contract with Broht & Forrester to publish his holo-novel, Photons Be Free. After the work was published without The Doctor's consent, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok suggested that since Ardon Broht maintained that The Doctor was not a person, it could be argued that the hologram therefore lacked the capacity to enter into the original contract. This option was not exercised, as it would mean conceding that The Doctor was not a person. (VOY: "Author, Author")
In Ferengi societyEdit
In Ferengi society, contracts were often employed to close business deals. They could also be used to trick unsuspecting individuals into agreeing upon things they would normally not do if they failed to read the entire contract. For both reasons, Rule of Acquisition #17 stated that "A contract is a contract is a contract," stressing the utmost importance of fulfilling one's end of the bargain in Ferengi culture.
As another Rule of Acquisition stated, "Workers are rungs on the ladder to success. Don't be afraid to step on them." To this end, all Ferengi contracts forbade the worker from taking time off for vacation. (DS9: "Bar Association")
Under Ferengi law, contracts were not final until they were signed. On one occasion, Quark was stuck with a shipment of self-sealing stem bolts he did not need and was desperate to get rid of them. He found a young woman whose family needed them, but before they signed the contract, Quark let her take her time and give him oo-mox. This delay ended up costing him the deal when Grand Nagus Zek, under the influence of the Bajoran Prophets, told the woman where her family could buy the stem bolts at a significantly cheaper price. (DS9: "Prophet Motive")
Once signed, any Ferengi who broke a contract with another Ferengi lost their business license from the Ferengi Commerce Authority, also known as the FCA. Their assets were then liquidated and they were forbidden from doing business with other Ferengi. However, the authority of the FCA did not reach beyond the limits of the Ferengi Alliance, and someone who had suffered this punishment could do business however they pleased in non-Ferengi parts of the galaxy. (DS9: "Body Parts")
Quark, like many Ferengi, often slipped dubious clauses into contracts. The fine print of the contract one of his dabo girls had to sign stated on Page 21, Subsection B, Paragraph 12 that having sex with him was part of the job requirement. He also once claimed that, per the agreement in the contract, anything which went wrong at his bar was his brother Rom's fault. Another clause in his contracts specifically stated that "satisfaction [was] not guaranteed". (DS9: "Captive Pursuit", "Meridian", "Heart of Stone")
He not only inserted dubious clauses into his contracts but was also willing to take on dubious deals as long as the price was right. When a visitor to Deep Space 9 who was obsessed with Major Kira Nerys asked him to create a holosuite program for him with a simulation of the Major in it, he agreed - for a substantial price. However, when Kira found out about the ploy, she switched the program so Quark's head would be on her body when the client saw her. (DS9: "Meridian")
Quark was once diagnosed with a fatal disease called Dorek Syndrome and decided to auction off his vacuum-desiccated remains on the Ferengi Futures Exchange. An anonymous bidder offered 500 bars of gold-pressed latinum, and Quark eagerly accepted the offer. However, when he found out he did not have Dorek Syndrome, Brunt (the bidder) still wanted to collect on the deal. This was Brunt's chance to ruin Quark once and for all, one way or another; when he finally broke the contract, he was blacklisted by the FCA. (DS9: "Body Parts")
After the incident with the FCA, Quark begged the Grand Nagus, who was dating Quark's mother Ishka at the time, to reinstate his business license. However, Zek refused to do so, as Quark had broken a contract after all. (DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs")