How Do You Legally Enforce an Oral Contract?
There is a very good reason that attorneys (and others) say you should “get it in writing,” especially when it comes to a business arrangement. Though oral contracts are legally enforceable, they are certainly much more difficult to prove than a written contract, and commercial litigation involving an oral contract is likely to be much more complicated than would be true of a clearly written and agreed-upon document. Still, there are many occasions when informal agreements are struck and then later breached, and it is important that when that happens, you engage the services of an experienced law firm to help you achieve your goals.
Every contract has to have certain basic elements in order to be enforceable. The most important of these is an offer and acceptance – in other words, the agreement has to surround one party offering something of value to the other, and the other agreeing to provide it. Beyond that, the parties to the agreement need to have the mental capacity to enter into the agreement and there must be an agreement with reference to the terms of payment, delivery and other. It is in these areas that oral contracts often fail: far too often a handshake may not adequately address all of the expectations of one or both parties to an agreement, and without those elements being in writing, the specifics (and the breach) becomes much more difficult to prove.
The best way to support your claims with reference to an oral contract is through the actions that have already been taken since the deal was struck: if either party can show that (for example) goods or services were furnished or a deposit was received that can serve to support a claim. Unfortunately, when the parties to an oral agreement don’t share the same view of specifics and a case needs to go to commercial litigation, the courts often decide that the lack of agreement on what the original contract entailed leaves the contract unenforceable. In order to avoid this outcome, the best bet is always to put all agreements into writing. Even a document that is not crafted by an attorney can help support clarity if it includes the necessary details.
If you are facing a struggle with getting an oral contract enforced, contact our office today to set up an appointment to speak with our experienced attorneys.