Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Oral contracts: don’t prove me wrong, they are not worth the paper they are written on**

A Wikipedia search confirms what most learn at some stage during schooling; that is a contract is an agreement that meets certain criteria to make it enforceable at law.

In summary, the 4 key aspects of a valid contract are:
  1. offer and acceptance;
  2. all key terms agreed;
  3. the intention of the parties to be bound; and
  4. consideration exchanged.
Whether a contract exists when parties communicate in writing is sometimes difficult.

If the communication to form the (alleged) contract is verbal, the issues tend to become even more blurred. Often trying to prove the existence and terms of an oral contract become a game of ''he said; she said'' - itself a sure fire approach to generating legal fees.

It is perhaps for these reasons that, at least in relation to contracts involving land, each state has rules requiring that the terms of the agreement be documented in writing, for example:

Contracts for Sale of Land to be in Writing

No action may be brought upon any contract for the sale or other disposition of land or any interest in land unless the contract upon which such action is brought, or some memorandum or note of the contract, is in writing, and signed by the party to be charged, or by some person by the party lawfully authorised.

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** For the trainspotters, the title of today's post is riffed from the Jebediah song 'Nothing lasts forever’.

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