Today’s Basic Legal Stuff: Are Oral Contracts Binding?

February 5, 2010

The short answer is yes and no (spoken like a true attorney!), but the larger question is why would you or your business want to enter into an oral/verbal agreement when, if a dispute arises, it is extremely difficult to prove the terms and conditions that were supposedly agreed upon by the parties?

Generally speaking, most oral agreements are legally binding assuming that they fulfill the required elements for a valid contract.  However, there are several types of transactions that require a written contract to be valid and enforceable.  Generally, state laws often require written agreements for real estate transactions (including leases), agreements that will last longer than a year, agreements to secure the debt of a third-party, and agreements to buy or sell goods over a minimum dollar amount.

I highly recommend that you put your personal and business contracts in writing because oral agreements are often exceedingly difficult to prove or enforce.  Another advantage with written agreements is that the time window to sue on the agreement (statute of limitations) is often longer than that for an oral agreement.

Prior to entering into any agreement, oral or written, please contact a qualified attorney that practices in business and contract law to make sure your rights are protected.  My firm is here to assist you in this regard.

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