Whether you are buying or selling an item, accepting a job or having work done on your house, you will probably be asked to sign a contract. Contracts are a way for both sides to agree on terms or services and to protect themselves legally. However, what about an oral contract? Will Ohio law protect you if you have only agreed verbally on something, and the other party fails to uphold your agreement?
According to the Ohio State Bar Association, some verbal contracts may be enforced as if you had signed a paper. The problem is that by only agreeing in words, you may have made it more difficult to prove there was a breach of contract. For example, you might have agreed to pay for a car part for your friend who was short on cash, with the stipulation that your friend repays you on his or her next paycheck. If you consider this friend trustworthy, you might shake hands without a second thought. However, when payday rolls around, your friend denies that you ever had such an agreement.
You might take your dispute to court, but how would you prove to the judge that your friend agreed to pay you back? If you kept a copy of the receipt from the auto parts store and can prove that the vehicle belongs to your friend, this might be enough proof that a verbal contract was agreed upon. A better solution in the first place would have been to ask your friend to sign a piece of paper with the terms written down.
There are some types of business transactions that require written contracts to be valid. These include real estate matters, jobs that are expected to take more than a year, sales or purchases exceeding $500, as well as a few others. To be on the safe side and avoid future litigation, it is often best to get anything of importance in writing, even among friends. This information should not serve as legal advice, but only as general information pertaining to business contracts.