Contracts: Are You Bound for Protection?
Contracts can provide protection for your purchases, business affairs, and many other transactions. “Get it in writing” is a wise adage that applies when discussing agreements. The more you stand to lose (or gain) the more you need a contract. Whether it be the person who buys a used car “as is” with no warranty but with a salesperson’s promises of “…it runs great and has no problems” OR a homeowner who hires a contractor based on the contractor’s raving about the quality of his work and many satisfied customers, there are countless stories of people who relied on verbal promises and statements only to be disappointed in the end. Losing money and being inconvenienced only add to the disappointment.
The Statute of Frauds requires certain agreements to be in writing including but not limited to the following:
- A promise which by its very terms cannot be performed with one year.
- Purchase or sale of real property.
- A lease with a term of more than one year.
- A mortgage.
- Most promises for the sale of goods of $500 or more.
- Promises restricting one’s right to conduct business (ex: a covenant not to compete signed by an employee).
Not all agreements need be in writing to be enforceable but even if the agreement you contemplate is not required to be in writing it may be advisable to create a written agreement so as to minimize confusion and to document the key details agreed upon by the parties. If something goes wrong the party seeking to enforce the agreement bears the burden of proving the existence and terms of the agreement. And contract cases can get complicated…..quickly. Terms such as consideration, estoppel, waiver, rescission, offer and acceptance, and defenses…..oh those defenses… such as fraud, lack of capacity, failure of consideration, and more.
Form contracts are available on the Internet and stores but will one of those generic contracts really suit your needs? Does it adequately cover your interests? If you need assistance with the enforcement of a contract, whether oral or written, or defense against the claim that you have breached a contract, contact Attorney John O’Neal of the O’Neal Law Office.