It Is a Misconception That if a Contract Is Not Written Down It Doesn’t Exist
We enter into contracts all the time with no writing and if the right conditions exist the contract will still bind the parties. These contracts are called verbal contracts. Here is how you can prove that you have a contract when you didn’t write it down.
For a contract, without writing to bind the parties there must be some evidence that the contract exists. There have been court battles for years over what does and does not count as evidence that a contract exists.
It may also be very hard to prove exactly what was in the contract if it was supposed to be a complex agreement, but with the right evidence, you can still show there was an agreement.
The easiest way to show a contract existed without writing is performance. Let’s say you contract with someone to buy a watch, but you won’t be finishing the deal until they wear the watch to work next week to impress their boss.
You didn’t write down the agreement, but you gave them the money upfront expecting that they will give you the watch after they get to wear it. If they refuse to give you the watch, you can still show a court that you gave the other person money for the watch and they accepted it which can show that a contract existed.
If you don’t have any writing and no one has started performing the contract, you can also try to prove that a contract existed using witness testimony.
For example, if you bring your friend to help you look at a car you want to buy and you agree to the purchase, but the seller backs out, you may be able to use your friend’s testimony to show a court that you and the seller entered into a contract.
There are exceptions to these theories and this is only a cursory overview. It may not apply to your specific facts.
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