Contract Laws for Verbal Agreements

Valid, enforceable agreements do not always have to be in writing. Although it is best to get it in writing, a verbal contract is, in most instances, just as enforceable as a written contract. Verbal agreements are subject to the same contract law requirements as written agreements. Oral contracts do, however, have some additional requirements that stem from the lack of hard proof associated with these contracts. Verbal agreements must meet four general legal requirements to be valid and enforceable.


For a valid, enforceable verbal contract, all parties must make a mutually understood agreement. One party must make a specific promise to do something in exchange for something else and the other must accept by making the required promise or performing the requested act. If you verbally offer a certain table for £65 to be paid upon delivery in three days and your offer is accepted, the accepting party is promising to pay you £65 when the table is delivered in three days.


Consideration is the legal term for the exchange of something of value. This exchange of things of value makes a verbal contract binding. The exchange can be a promise to perform or actual performance. For example, you may promise to provide a product or perform a job in exchange for payment, or you may pay a fee in exchange for a service.


Enforcing verbal agreements also require some proof that the legal requirements of offer, acceptance and exchange of something of value have been met. In a written agreement, these terms are evidenced in the written contract, but with verbal agreements, it is often one person's word against another. Proof that a valid, enforceable contract exists can be notes from when the oral agreement took place, evidence of payment, correspondence, witnesses or even pictures.

Statute of Frauds

A valid, enforceable verbal contract must meet all legal requirements for contract formation and not be subject to any laws requiring that it be in writing. The law requiring that certain contracts be in writing is the statute of frauds. Every state has its own statute of frauds. This statute requires that four types of contracts be in writing: contracts that involve an interest in land, contracts to pay the debt of another person, sales of goods contracts for £325 or more and contracts that cannot be performed within one year.

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About the Author

Based in the Washington, D.C. area, Angela Floyd is an intellectual property, consumer and business law attorney. Floyd holds a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center as well as a Master of Arts in English and political science from Case Western Reserve University.

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