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Is it possible to enforce an oral contract in New York?

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2015 | Contract Disputes

Some people still operate on the belief that a man’s word is his honor, but unfortunately that is not usually how the business world works in modern times. Even so, you might agree to do business with someone without drawing up an official contract. Are you able to uphold the terms of your agreement if you only sealed the deal with a handshake? Would New York law protect you if the other party did not abide by the terms of an oral contract?

Many types of oral contracts may still be accepted in court, states USA Today. It may be difficult, however, to prove your side in a contract dispute if you relied on a verbal contract. Providing enough evidence to prove there was a breach of contract would be difficult when it is your word against the other’s. You would also need to show the court that you both had agreed and understood the terms. This may be nearly impossible if you don’t have a written contract as proof.

Also, some types of business contracts may not be enforceable if they’re not in writing. Under the Statute of Frauds, these include the following:

  • Any real estate contract
  • An agreement to pay another person’s debt
  • Transactions over the amount of $500
  • A job that would take longer than a year to complete
  • Sizeable loans or credit extensions

A verbal contract may seem like a good idea if you are on good terms with the person you will do business with, especially if that person is a friend. Unfortunately, failing to get a contract in writing can make it all too easy for your partner to commit fraud or otherwise break the terms of the agreement. Therefore, you should consider it in your best interests to get any business agreement on paper. This information is not intended as legal advice, but should help you understand how oral contracts work in New York City.


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