Does a Contract Have To Be In Writing To Be Legally Enforceable?

"Get it in writing" is good advice for anyone entering into a business relationship.

A contract is a legally enforceable agreement that is made between two or more individuals or entities involved in some sort of transaction or business relationship. There are certain requirements that must be met in order for a contract to be valid. For example, both parties must agree to all of the material terms of the contract in order for it to be valid.

While many people think that a contract has to be in writing to be valid, there are many circumstances under which an oral contract is legally enforceable. However, just because it is possible to enforce doesn't mean it's a good idea. Some types of contracts, such as those involving real estate or contracts that cannot be fully performed in less than a year, must be in writing to avoid being barred to something called the statute of frauds. Even those contracts that do not comply with the statute of frauds, enjoy certain exceptions. Every situation is fact specific.

Beware of Oral Contracts

Even though oral contracts can be enforceable, they can be difficult to prove exactly what the terms are. Most written contracts include an integration clause, which states the parties agree the written contract is the final expression of the parties' agreement and there are no other oral or written agreements that are not contained in the final written contract. When an integration clause is present, it can effectively bar other oral promises. Never sign a contract that does not contain in writing all of the important terms you are relying on, even if you know and trust the other party to keep their (unwritten) word.

Resolving a dispute in absence of a written contract can be a lengthy and costly process.

If you are involved in a business or real estate transaction, get it in writing. However, don't let the absence of a written contract prevent you from getting the legal help you need to resolve a dispute. Talk to an attorney about your specific circumstances and options.

Get the help you need: If you are involved in a legal dispute and want to know if your oral contract is enforceable, contact a business attorney from Chenoweth Law Group, PC: Call 503-446-6261.

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