Many people believe that a contract must be in writing to be enforceable. While it is true that certain agreements are required to be in writing to be enforceable, some oral contracts are valid. Contracts involving real estate, marriage, performance over multiple years and the sale of goods over $500 are required by the statute of frauds to be in writing. If a verbal agreement is not one of these specified categories, it may be a valid contract.
Before you start relying on handshake deals, however, it is vital that you remember that you must have the ability to prove an agreement exists. Typically, having witnesses to the verbal agreement is helpful. However, if there were no witnesses to the oral contract, you can prove its existence by actions that were taken afterward. If either party immediately acted to complete their obligations under the agreement, it can be evidence of the contract. Additionally, copies of emails, letters, other correspondence or documentation between the parties that refer to the oral agreement can establish a contract was formed.
The safest means for protecting yourself, however, is to always get your contracts in writing. There is no guarantee that you will be able to prove an oral contract was made, so it is better not to take the risk. Even if it is a simple transaction and it is unlikely that you will be required to prove the oral contract, having a one-page contract is better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be complex or lengthy, it just has to be in writing.
If you need advice regarding contracts or other business transactions, the legal team at Faro & Crowder can help. Our office is located in Melbourne, but we proudly serve businesses across the State of Florida.