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The Law & Verbal Agreements

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 22 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Verbal Agreements Legal Binding

Many people are not aware that verbal agreements are in many cases as legally binding as written contracts. Verbal contracts can be upheld by a court if someone decides to breach the agreement, although without written terms and conditions it may be difficult to prove.

Conditions of a Verbal Agreement

Under law there are two basic terms that constitute a binding agreement. The verbal agreement will be binding if there was an agreement on the services to be performed and an agreement was reached on remuneration for this service. This agreement can be reached by a verbal exchange in person, via telephone or via an email.

There are certain contracts and agreements that must be made in writing and these will include the sale of property, tenancy agreements, copyright transfer, and contracts for consumer credit. In some cases, verbal agreements will not be upheld in court, not because of the lack of a written agreement but because the terms of the verbal agreement were not clarified.

Written Agreements

For any agreement concerning an exchange of services it is a wise idea to have some form of contract or written statement. The contract or statement should include the terms and conditions of the agreement and is particularly helpful if a dispute between the parties occurs.

Complete Verbal Agreements

In order for a verbal agreement to be legally binding the agreement must have reached completeness. This means that all terms and conditions have been reached and agreed regarding services and terms of pay. Agreements will be incomplete when there are still further terms and conditions to be agreed. Agreements in principle will not usually be upheld in court and will not usually be considered complete verbal agreements.

Verbal Agreements and Disputes

If either party has decided to break a contract then the matter can be taken to the legal courts. In most cases the dispute may rest on the justification of the terms of the verbal agreement. There are a few ways that a judge will try and establish the terms of the agreement. These could include investigating what actually happened in practice. This can include the services that were actually undertaken and if any money whatsoever was paid for any services.

Enforcing a Verbal Agreement

Apart from taking the matter to court there are other ways to enforce a verbal agreement. If money is owed then the matter can be passed on to a collection agency to try to enforce the matter for you. The disgruntled party can also apply pressure themselves by sending letter, emails and making telephone calls to the person who is in breach of contract. Copies of all emails and letters should be kept in case the matter does reach the law courts.

Payment before Service

One way of avoiding this sort of dispute ever occurring may be to ask for some form of payment before supplying a service. Although the customer may not always agree to this it may be an option to consider. In some cases if a person is going to breach a contract and withhold payment then the odds are they may never have intended to pay for the service in the first place. In many cases though a customer may not like the idea of paying for a service until the job is completed for fear of non completion.

Threatening court action for breach of a verbal contract may not actually help the matter at all if one party intended not to carry through on the agreement. However the law does consider complete verbal agreements as Legally Binding and the matter can be brought to the law courts for a judge to make the final decision.

One interesting question is 'does a text message create a legally binding contract?'. Richard Brittle of Brittle Motors based in Stoke-on-Trent believes that it does. Over the coming weeks our leading in-house barrister will report on her findings which should make for interesting reading.

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I was a director of a of a company with 51% share (profit share) given to me by the investor/silent partner but once I set the business up the silent partner breached his verbal agreement and became an active partner. He took all major decisions about the company. Like ordering stock and setting rates of stocketc. Often these sections were creating issues within the business, such as no money to pay for stocks ordered. Profit margin were non existent due to low rates for stocks. I became very stressed and verbally agreed to leave. Now the silent partner is demanding I buy share in money. There was no contract or agreement of this but now he's harassing me to buy 50% of the share which I don't want.
Sian - 22-Sep-17 @ 8:44 PM
I was offered a promotion at work to Team Leader position and was verbally agreed with payrise and had written confirmation of new job description.The manager has now been demoted and company is saying they cant do anything.Where do I stand?
Steve - 22-Sep-17 @ 3:55 PM
Dan - Your Question:
I am a Barber Student when I was enrolling for class I had Asked The recruiter if I was able to make up any hours that I couldn't do for class due to work schedule he told me it was not a problem I can make up hours whenever I felt like it. thats what drew me in to even take classes there due to work schedule. after a few weeks they started changing the rules that their were no make Up hours until you hit 500 hours then they changed it to 700 hours then after that they changed it to 800 hours and you have to have approval of school coordinator it seems like they are trying to hold people longer in class due to you will be charged $10 an hour that you make up I tried telling the director that I only had agreed to going to school there due to them promising that I can make up hours whenever I can she said that that didn't matter since they made a sign a contract after saying that we had to make up hours after 800 hours with their permission I am not the only student that they promised this to. Is there anything I can do after

Our Response:
Unfortunately, as a Uk-based site we can only deal with UK-based employment law.
ContractsAndAgreements - 8-Sep-17 @ 2:03 PM
I am a Barber Student when I wasenrolling for class I had Asked The recruiter if I was able to make up any hours that I couldn't do for class due to work schedule he told me it was not a problem I can make up hours whenever I felt like it. thats what drew me in to even take classes there due to work schedule. after a few weeks they started changingthe rules that their were no make Up hours until you hit 500 hours then they changed it to700 hours then after that they changed it to 800 hours and you have to have approval of school coordinator it seems like they are trying to hold people longer in class due to you will be charged $10an hour that you make up I tried telling the director that I only had agreed to going to school there due to them promising that I can make up hours whenever I can she said that that didn't matter since they made a sign a contract after saying that we had to make up hours after 800 hours with their permission I am not the only student that they promised this to. Is there anything I can do after
Dan - 7-Sep-17 @ 8:54 PM
I cancelled appointment with life coach via skype less than 24 hours notice she says she will charge me £65 fee for session we have no contract only emails with fee charges.....is the fee legal
Lynh - 25-Aug-17 @ 11:35 PM
My mother passed away with no will, prearranged funeral arrangements or any money. She did however own 4 burial plots. I have 1 sister and no other siblings. I borrowed the money to pay for our mothers funeral and bury her in 1 of the cemetery plots with the understanding and verbal agreement that my sister would sign over her rights to the 1 1/2 that she now owns. After the funeral my sister has refused to sign over the rights. What are my legal rights to get her to sign them over? I do have a text message from her saying she will sign them over. I even offered to split any profit, if there is any.
TD - 25-Aug-17 @ 8:00 PM
We had agreed to book flights to lanzarote for ourselves and two friends and their twin. We originally paid full costs as they were not in a finanail position to pay all straight away! They have yet to still pay the full cost and the holiday is 23 Sept 17. We did offer for them to stay with ourselves, but there has since been a falling out and cannot be reconciled and as such we no longer wish them to use our apartment, which at no point did we say it was going to be totally free, we would have expected a little towards the maintenance or to be taken for a meal as a gesture of goodwil. Are we liable to pay them back the costs of their flights which they have not paid in full as we no longer wish them to share the apartment that we are to stay in ourselves?thank you
Dan - 22-Aug-17 @ 5:20 PM
In Feb 2017 I signed up for satellite broadband.It was part of a government scheme here to improve broadband .I contributed my sharefor equiment and installation up front then agreed to pay £50.00 month from credit card. When I signed up in the shop I was verbally told I could pull out at any time. Some months in I was dissatisifed with the service and cancelled with the satellite company by email asking them for a copy of the contract as I was unable to find it . They said that I had a verbal agreement with them andI would have to continue with them up until the end of the intial 12 month agreement. I feel that I was misold in the first instance as I specifically asked if I could pull out if I was not happy ,and also was suprised that I had no paper contract.Netresult isthe satellite companyhave not cancelled the card paymentI am still paying for a service that I no longer use and appear unable to cancel the card payment. I live in Northern Ireland .What should I do ?
Marella Fyffe - 18-Aug-17 @ 11:31 AM
I work in a real estate firm as the Manager. As a real estate firm, the company has a policy that whoever sells a plot of land gets 30,000 naira and this has lasted for years irrespective of marketer or admin staff. In a bid to increasing sales and attracting more clients, we flagged a promo and my boss during our general meeting of admin staff and marketers announced that the promo commission is still 30,000 naira irrespective of the category of that staff. My colleagues sold plots and they were all paid. My own case, God blessed me that I contacted a cooperative that picked interest and fortunately bought 75 plots. The cooperative has completed payment since but my boss have refused to pay me my commission. After much pressure, he paid 200,000 naira which is not up to 10% of the total amount I am due to receive. To worsting the case, my boss is insisting that he will pay me only 500,000 naira which is below 25% of my total entitlement. The challenge I have is that we didn't write an agreement to that effect concerning the amount for the deal. Same thing with my colleagues but he paid all others that sold their complete entitlements. I feel cheated and wish to approach the court for justice but I am worried if I will win the case since there is written agreement. Please advice me what to do
McDuoxce - 11-Aug-17 @ 7:14 PM
Hi I need some advice please, my partner found a car for sale in a car showroom online and put a £100 deposit down which is refundable if we choose not to buy the car after viewing it in the showroom itself anyway he's just noticed they have put the price up by £1,100 how do we stand with this? Are they allowed to do that? Thank you
Becky280586 - 5-Aug-17 @ 10:01 PM
@Superman4579 - easy, call the police to sort it out.
HSam - 4-Aug-17 @ 12:19 PM
Need advice. I was paid to do a job for someone, after I started the job he had someone else do it. He is holding my tools til I pay him back the money that was paid to me. He said he will sell my tools if I don't have the money to him in a week. What can I do?
Superman4579 - 4-Aug-17 @ 3:25 AM
Nurch- Your Question:
My parents had an old agreement with a bursar at my school that was also classed as a charity back in 2014. The agreement was that all outstanding fee's would be wiped off using charitable funds as my father was made redundant & if he didn't hear from the bursar within 3 months after their meeting in May-2014 he should consider the case closed (No written evidence just verbal). Sept-2016 came around and we received an unregistered letter from the new bursar (2 days into her new job) that £6,862.80 was outstanding and demanded payment instantly. Within 13 days it was in a debt collectors hands demanding £7,862.80, then a solicitor demanding £13,862.80 in July-2017, ignoring all our letters asking for proof of an invoice we should have received when I left in May-2014 - Yet they ignore and increase the costs. My mother having missed a bankruptcy petition hearing as it wasn't served to her correctly (She didn't even know there was a hearing & all correspondence was addressed to my father) they ruled in default. We've hired a solicitor that's just suggesting that we either set aside the case or the better option is to settle a smaller amount, at the moment its looking to be around £12,500. We can't get hold of the old Bursar (As we have no contact details) and the school are unwilling to cooperate or even try and contact him. Is there anything we can do? £12,500 is an extremely high amount for a debt that was settled over 2 years ago.

Our Response:
I'm afraid this is beyond our remit to advise, especially if it is in the hands of your solicitor.
ContractsAndAgreements - 3-Aug-17 @ 9:47 AM
My parents had an old agreement with a bursar at my school that was also classed as a charity back in 2014. The agreement was that all outstanding fee's would be wiped off using charitable funds as my father was made redundant & if he didn't hear from the bursar within 3 months after their meeting in May-2014 he should consider the case closed (No written evidence just verbal). Sept-2016 came around and we received an unregistered letter from the new bursar (2 days into her new job) that £6,862.80 was outstanding and demanded payment instantly. Within 13 days it was in a debt collectors hands demanding £7,862.80, then a solicitor demanding £13,862.80 in July-2017, ignoring all our letters asking for proof of an invoice we should have received when I left in May-2014 - Yet they ignore and increase the costs. My mother having missed a bankruptcy petition hearing as it wasn't served to her correctly (She didn't even know there was a hearing & all correspondence was addressed to my father) they ruled in default. We've hired a solicitor that's just suggesting that we either set aside the case or the better option is to settle a smaller amount, at the moment its looking to be around £12,500. We can't get hold of the old Bursar (As we have no contact details) and the school are unwilling to cooperate or even try and contact him. Is there anything we can do? £12,500 is an extremely high amount for a debt that was settled over 2 years ago.
Nurch - 1-Aug-17 @ 4:29 PM
Jabbo - Your Question:
I agreed a contract with vodaphone after a sales person rang me offering a free tablet ( the new Samsung tablet £400) and data sim 5g for £2 a week 18 month contract I agreed to this and was told it would be delivered the next day but when it turned up 3 days later it was a cheap vodaphone tablet (tab speed 6 £50) and a bill of £17 extra on my phone bill I've contacted vodaphone and asked them to listen to the phone call all they say is they can't fine the phone call can I hold vodaphone to the contract I was offered I've asked for a deadlock letter to be sent.

Our Response:
If you want to cancel a service you’ve arranged online, over the phone or by mail-order, you should get a 14-day cooling-off period. Please see link here for more details.
ContractsAndAgreements - 1-Aug-17 @ 2:12 PM
@verbal contract info - your ex should have stuck to the rule of never pay for work upfront. If it was a verbal contract he'd have to prove he gave him the money and that work took place (difficult to prove though if it was cash).
Ross - 1-Aug-17 @ 10:32 AM
I agreed a contract with vodaphone after a sales person rang me offering a free tablet ( the new Samsung tablet £400) and data sim 5g for £2 a week 18 month contract I agreed to this and was told it would be delivered the next day but when it turned up 3 days later it was a cheap vodaphone tablet (tab speed 6 £50) and a bill of £17 extra on my phone bill I've contacted vodaphone and asked them to listen to the phone call all they say is they can't fine the phone call can I hold vodaphone to the contract I was offered I've asked for a deadlock letter to be sent.
Jabbo - 31-Jul-17 @ 8:47 PM
My ex had a truck that needed the engine replaced.He took the old engine to be rebuilt and then took the engine to amechanic to have it put back into the truck.The mechanic accepted the job and my ex paid him up front for parts and for part of the fee to reinstall the engine.(My ex is a long haul truck driver so is not close by most of the time).The mechanic was arrested and used the monies my ex gave him for bail.Then he called the ex and said he needed more parts etc.The ex gave him approximately $1000 or so to complete the work.In short, the mechanic kept giving him excuses as to why the truck was not finished and finally said he did not intend to complete the job as he had gotten angry at the ex for demanding (after weeks of excuses) that the truck be completed.Does my ex have any recourse?Can he sue for the monies to be returned as it was only a "verbal contract"?
verbal contract info - 31-Jul-17 @ 12:27 AM
@billy64 - the small claims court might be the way forward. Does the firm record their phone calls? If so, you can ask the company to look back?Any solicitor must give you a cost estimate at the beginning, usually on or after the first interview. If the firm charges a standard hourly rate for their services, it can mean unpredictable costs, so getting putting a limit on the costs is always a good idea. But I guess, that's a bit late now. How has it arrived at £730? It's always tricky dealing with a firm of solicitors as they know how to get around these issues!
Tom64 - 28-Jul-17 @ 10:17 AM
Last year I contacted and spoke to a member of a local firm of solicitors , regarding sending out for me a letter of notice to a tenant, this was carried out and paid for , he advised over phone that a follow up letter and maybe a phone call may be necessary as an extra tool if first letter does not do the job I agreed that that was a good idea but did not give go ahead for any follow up action at this point , I then received a bill for £ 250 pounds for second letter and phone calls of which I had no idea and gave no go ahead to, the solicitor has now moved on but the company are still chasing me for the money I have been and spoken to them stating that I did not authorise their solicitor and asked them if we could contact him they refused the bill now stands at £ 730.00 I don't know what to do ?, please help if you can.
billy64 - 26-Jul-17 @ 6:12 PM
@Tina - not if it was verbal. Even if it wasn't verbal and was written - there is still nothing much you can do as it was your decision to sell the house.
Charlie - 21-Jul-17 @ 2:53 PM
Babydove - Your Question:
If you have a verbal contract with someone who has lent you money.and after a few payments have been struggling to repay and told the said person, to which they reply by txt message to your phone, forget it, I don't want it back, is this still a legal verbal contract and can they change their mind to want payment again at a later date?

Our Response:
The person can change their mind. But, if you have this text as proof and they wish to take you to the small claims court, then this can be used as evidence from your part. Therefore, if you think the person may change their mind, it is important you keep this text.
ContractsAndAgreements - 21-Jul-17 @ 2:13 PM
Hi I was verbally promised my old job back from the manager, I put my house up for sale,relocated and found a rental near where the job would be. I sent the manager an email stating that before I put my house up for sale would I definitely get the job. I had a reply verbally over the phone. My ex co worker was also involved and liaison between both of us, I have texts messages that I could use as proof? The manager then changed her mind and decided to give the job to her daughter in law. It was too late to pull out of the house sale by then. Is there anything I can do legally? Thanks
Tina - 21-Jul-17 @ 1:43 PM
If you have a verbal contract with someone who has lent you money....and after a few payments have been struggling to repay and told the said person, to which they reply by txt message to your phone, forget it, I don't want it back, is this still a legal verbal contract and can they change their mind to want payment again at a later date?
Babydove - 21-Jul-17 @ 9:31 AM
Hi, I had a verbal agreement, confirmed in a text message, with my hairdresser to do my daughter's hair on her wedding day as well as her three bridesmaids and my hair too. Last night she sent a text saying she was cancelling all future appointments (including the wedding) with less than 3 weeks to go before the Big Day. I have already paid her £40 for my daughter's hair trial. Can she legally do this at such a LATE stage which threatens to completely ruin the most important day of my daughter's life?
Babs - 16-Jul-17 @ 10:28 PM
Mike - Your Question:
Our family booked the whole field of a caravan site for a 60th birthday party with a live band. The verbal agreement was made to pay £560.00 for the w/e. When we arrived with all our family and friends the site owner had allowed 4 tents to be erected at one end of the site for his friends to stay in. We informed the site owner of our displeasure but he made no effort to explain why he had allowed this and said it was to late to ask them to move. On the first evening the site owners friends got into an argument over their 4 dogs which had let run freely around the site. They become aggressive and it took some time to settle things down. The next day we informed the remaining members of the party who were due to arrive for the party and live band of the situation and most of them decided to stay away.We scaled back the celebrations with the remaining family and guest and started to pack up to leave. We approached the owner and requested a reduced settlement for the rental of the field. He then turned very aggressive and demanded the full payment within 20 minuets or he was calling the police. He then blocked the exit with his van and informed us he would be clamping our vehicles. As we had lots of young children in the group and did not wish have any escalation, so we paid the full amount and left the site. Is their any way we can claim recompense for the site owner breaking the verbal contract.

Our Response:
Was it a private agreement or booked through a company? Resolver here can give helpful tips and advice, even if the company is not part of its list. The CAB also has a letter of complaint template that you could use in the first instance here. If the owners are part of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, please see link here. If was a loose/informal verbal agreement and you feel the agreement was breached and your letter of complaint is ignored, then your only option to recover all or part of the money would be to try through the small claims court.
ContractsAndAgreements - 14-Jul-17 @ 10:52 AM
Our family booked the whole field of a caravan site for a 60th birthday party with a live band. The verbal agreement was made to pay £560.00 for the w/e. When we arrived with all our family and friends the site owner had allowed 4 tents to be erected at one end of the site for his friends to stay in. We informed the site owner of our displeasure but he made no effort to explain why he had allowed this and said it was to late to ask them to move. On the first evening the site owners friends got into an argument over their 4 dogs which had let run freely around the site. They become aggressive and it took some time to settle things down. The next day we informed the remaining members of the party who were due to arrive for the party and live band of the situation and most of them decided to stay away. We scaled back the celebrations with the remaining family and guest and started to pack up to leave. We approached the owner and requested a reduced settlement for the rental of the field. He then turned very aggressive and demanded the full payment within 20 minuets or he was calling the police. He then blocked the exit with his van and informed us he would be clamping our vehicles. As we had lots of young children in the group and did not wish have any escalation, so we paid the full amount and left the site. Is their any way we can claim recompense for the site owner breaking the verbal contract.
Mike - 13-Jul-17 @ 1:15 PM
I own a window cleaning business that's part of a franchise. My partner and I never really discussed logistics of the business i.e. When and where, nothing was ever signed or drawn up. No agreemensts out side of where I would do it and how he would be paid. I want out and was wondering if it would be as a easy as just saying it. I also want to start my own business in the same field. Help...
Denisemnts - 9-Jul-17 @ 5:27 AM
I made an offer on a property in early June 17. The estate agent recommended both surveyor and solicitor. The solicitor emailed me a list of services and prices, which I agreed to. The surveyor called me and offered a home owners survey for around 500gbp which would be carried out on the 22nd via collecting keys from the estate agents. I verbally agreed to this depending on completion of sale. On the 16th I withdrew from the purchase after being Gazumped twice. I contacted the solicitor and told them I did not need further services. On the 17th I received a letter and invoice from the surveyor asking for written confirmation to carry out the survey. I didn't return the form because I was no longer purchasing. Now the surveyor is asking for the 500gbp as they have completed the survey. 1. Why would the estate agents give authorization for the survey when they knew I had withdrawn? 2. Why would the surveyor complete it without contacting me to confirm? 3. Do I have to pay the fees?
Shay - 7-Jul-17 @ 5:14 PM
We recently moved home and agreed with the sellers that in return for us paying full asking price they would pay our stamp duty.This helped us complete the sales and raise sufficient funds.The mortgage company we used would not process this through the completion process and so we had to broker a verbal agreement through the estate agents so that we could all complete and not delay the chain further.The alternative was to try a different lender but this would've led to further delays which was not in the interests of any party.It was agreed that we would pay the stamp duty and following completion private contact details would be exchange so the money could be paid privately.This was always a condition of sale and we have paperwork to support this. Do we have a case if we were to take this to court.The seller has moved out the area and has not returned any communication.
Kev - 7-Jul-17 @ 4:14 PM
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