Many people operate under the mistaken belief that the word contract is synonymous with written contract.
Everyone has the warning get it in writing. As a general proposition it is good advice.
You should automatically not assume, however, that because an agreement is not in writing, it is not a contract or that you cannot legally enforce it.
Under our law there are a number of contracts that must be in writing to be enforceable, such as a sale of real estate or a long-term lease.
Other examples exist, but there are also numerous exceptions to the rules requiring written contracts.
For example, when one party to a contract has performed the obligations that were expected of him or her under a contract that should have been in writing, the other party cannot generally raise the written contract rule as a defence against the obligation to pay for the other persons performance.
In order words, if one party actually did what he or she agreed to do, the other party cannot object the contract was only verbal.
Obviously, it is much easier to determine the obligations of each party to a contract if the contract is in writing.
There is less likely to be confusion or misunderstanding when the agreement is reduced to writing.
In addition, an oral agreement often comes down to one persons word against the others over important terms of the agreement, or whether an agreement existed at all.
You should remember, however, that although a written contract is required for some transactions, and also provides an independent way to determine the precise terms of a contract, a written contract is not necessarily required in order to have a valid, enforceable agreement.
The adage that an oral agreement is only as good as the paper on which it is written may suggest some sound advice, but it should not be interpreted to mean that an oral agreement is equivalent to no agreement.
Many deals are still made with a handshake, and although problems of proof may increase, do not assume you have no legal recourse because you didn’t get it in writing.”
Greg Monforton & Partners – Windsor Personal Injury Lawyers. Ph: (866) 320-4770