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The Law & Verbal Agreements

Author: Garry Crystal - Updated: 26 July 2015 | commentsComment
 
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.

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@Sophie - I think in this case it would be advisable to run your question via ACAS, (see link here) due to the complexity of the issue.
ContractsAndAgreements - 27-Jul-15 @ 10:41 AM
I'm not really clear with a uk law soI' m confuse at now. I work via agency with a same company same position full time more than 3 years ago. 15 month ago all of the people who started with me and with my girlfriend - HR offered a contract for us. We accepted inverbal agreement all terms and condition. We went holiday after that.When we cameback all signed a contract expect for the two of us. The following month we asked the director about our contract he told us :" Let's have a look...." We waited for a next month and asked again the HR people who has offered contract and that time she said has not forgotten but she said too busy with other paperwork. Since then, nothing has been done..... A week ago reoffered the same contract to us .....and when we asked them about our previous contract they have ignored . What we can do in this situation because everyone who has been contract they got full time permanent and a benefit and for us offered only 11 month permanent contract only we losing a money and better job prospects during this time. Thanks in advance any help Sophie and Andrea
Sophie - 26-Jul-15 @ 1:07 PM
I'm not really clear with a uk law soI' m confuse at now. I work via agency with a same company same position full time more than 3 years ago. 15 month ago all of the people who started with me and with my girlfriend - HR offered a contract for us. We accepted inverbal agreement all terms and condition. We went holiday after that.When we cameback all signed a contract expect for the two of us. The following month we asked the director about our contract he told us :" Let's have a look...." We waited for a next month and asked again the HR people who has offered contract and that time she said has not forgotten but she said too busy with other paperwork. Since then, nothing has been done..... A week ago reoffered the same contract to us .....and when we asked them about our previous contract they have ignored . What we can do in this situation because everyone who has been contract they got full time permanent and a benefit and for us offered only 11 month permanent contract only we losing a money and better job prospects during this time. Thanks in advance any help Sophie and Andrea
Sophie - 24-Jul-15 @ 1:48 PM
I'm not really clear with a uk law soI' m confuse at now. I work via agency with a same company same position full time more than 3 years ago. 15 month ago all of the people who started with me and with my girlfriend - HR offered a contract for us. We accepted inverbal agreement all terms and condition. We went holiday after that.When we cameback all signed a contract expect for the two of us. The following month we asked the director about our contract he told us :" Let's have a look...." We waited for a next month and asked again the HR people who has offered contract and that time she said has not forgotten but she said too busy with other paperwork. Since then, nothing has been done..... A week ago reoffered the same contract to us .....and when we asked them about our previous contract they have ignored . What we can do in this situation because everyone who has been contract they got full time permanent and a benefit and for us offered only 11 month permanent contract only we losing a money and better job prospects during this time. Thanks in advance any help Sophie and Andrea
Sophie - 23-Jul-15 @ 8:45 PM
I'm not really clear with a uk law soI' m confuse at now. I work via agency with a same company same position full time more than 3 years ago. 15 month ago all of the people who started with me and with my girlfriend - HR offered a contract for us. We accepted inverbal agreement all terms and condition. We went holiday after that.When we cameback all signed a contract expect for the two of us. The following month we asked the director about our contract he told us :" Let's have a look...." We waited for a next month and asked again the HR people who has offered contract and that time she said has not forgotten but she said too busy with other paperwork. Since then, nothing has been done..... A week ago reoffered the same contract to us .....and when we asked them about our previous contract they have ignored . What we can do in this situation because everyone who has been contract they got full time permanent and a benefit and for us offered only 11 month permanent contract only we losing a money and better job prospects during this time. Thanks in advance any help Sophie and Andrea
Sophie - 23-Jul-15 @ 8:42 PM
I wanted to replace my back window with patio doors, window fitter came round and measure up, he told me a price a few days later and we agreed to have them fitted. I kept calling the fitter to see when he could install but heard nothing back for 3 weeks. Eventually got hold of him and he said that I was in a 5 week cycle and he would get back to me. 7 weeks later and still no joy until tonight. He rang to say he had the door and could he come round and fit them. I explained that I didn't want them any more as I'd not heard from him for 7 weeks and that I'd got another person round to do the job and have paid them. He now says that if I don't he will go through the courts! All I want to know is a) can he do this as he never informed me to say he was getting the doors and gave me a date? b) there was no quote to say how much, what work he would be taking out If anybody out there would care to read this and answer I would be eternally gratefull Many thanks boycie
boycie1975 - 23-Jul-15 @ 7:18 PM
I'm not really clear with a uk law soI' m confuse at now. I work via agency with a same company same position full time more than 3 years ago. 15 month ago all of the people who started with me and with my girlfriend - HR offered a contract for us. We accepted inverbal agreement all terms and condition. We went holiday after that.When we cameback all signed a contract expect for the two of us. The following month we asked the director about our contract he told us :" Let's have a look...." We waited for a next month and asked again the HR people who has offered contract and that time she said has not forgotten but she said too busy with other paperwork. Since then, nothing has been done..... A week ago reoffered the same contract to us .....and when we asked them about our previous contract they have ignored . What we can do in this situation because everyone who has been contract they got full time permanent and a benefit and for us offered only 11 month permanent contract only we losing a money and better job prospects during this time. Thanks in advance any help Sophie and Andrea
Sophie - 23-Jul-15 @ 12:03 PM
Hi, I have pre paid for 20 hours driving lessons in the uk, I have used 8 hours so far,the driving instructor has changed car and the new car has a button instead of a handbrake, I am not happy about this as feel I need to learn with a handbrake as I will not be buying a car with a button.If I cancel the remaining 12 hour would I be entitled to a refund of the money I paid?
madams - 23-Jul-15 @ 10:49 AM
I'm not really clear with a uk law soI' m confuse at now. I work via agency with a same company same position full time more than 3 years ago. 15 month ago all of the people who started with me and with my girlfriend - HR offered a contract for us. We accepted inverbal agreement all terms and condition. We went holiday after that.When we cameback all signed a contract expect for the two of us. The following month we asked the director about our contract he told us :" Let's have a look...." We waited for a next month and asked again the HR people who has offered contract and that time she said has not forgotten but she said too busy with other paperwork. Since then, nothing has been done..... A week ago reoffered the same contract to us .....and when we asked them about our previous contract they have ignored . What we can do in this situation because everyone who has been contract they got full time permanent and a benefit and for us offered only 11 month permanent contract only we losing a money and better job prospects during this time. Thanks in advance any help Sophie and Andrea
Sophie - 22-Jul-15 @ 8:02 PM
I'm not really clear with a uk law soI' m confuse at now. I work via agency with a same company same position full time more than 3 years ago. 15 month ago all of the people who started with me and with my girlfriend - HR offered a contract for us. We accepted inverbal agreement all terms and condition. We went holiday after that.When we cameback all signed a contract expect for the two of us. The following month we asked the director about our contract he told us :" Let's have a look...." We waited for a next month and asked again the HR people who has offered contract and that time she said has not forgotten but she said too busy with other paperwork. Since then, nothing has been done..... A week ago reoffered the same contract to us .....and when we asked them about our previous contract they have ignored . What we can do in this situation because everyone who has been contract they got full time permanent and a benefit and for us offered only 11 month permanent contract only we losing a money and better job prospects during this time. Thanks in advance any help Sophie and Andrea
Sophie - 22-Jul-15 @ 7:57 PM
My 1 year old daughters father has been telling me hes going 2 get my car fixed...I have txt messages of him saying this since November of 2014..he has no inntentions of helping me with anyhing..which I see now months later. I was home with our child while he was out working "for us"...but in April he bought his father a Harley and has yet to fix my car... Can I take him 2 court...we had a verbal agreement and I do have proof of everything??I was not working at the time and I was waiting on him 2 do what he said he was going 2 do...now Im so far behindwith my bills I will never get ahead and my car is not driveable.. Paying people gas money 2get back and forth 2work dont help save money..
SarahMae - 17-Jul-15 @ 10:48 PM
My mom agreed with me over the phone a year ago to let my wife kids and I stay at her house as long as we paid out share of bills bought our own food kept house clean and I went to college. We have done all these things and I'm in school full time while my wife works. She has now evicted all of us and we have no money for a place to go with 3 kids in tow.Can she do this legally? We have even helped her with all the yard work her cats n dogs not to mention I use to do floors so she bought the materials and I redone 3 rooms and never charged her a dime. Can she really legally do this to us. I'm in finals and everything yet have no time to study trying not to have a heart attack finding somewhere for us to go in time before the marshals evict us in a few days. Shouldn't she have to pay our moving expenses. She also traded her car for mine and promised it had no issues but it cost me 1300 dollars to get the tags to pass smog test. Is that legal for her to have lied to me? I was trusting her because she is my mom. She claims she has been off the drugs and stopped smoking crack but now I just don't know anymore. Can I sue her? Who would I report that she gets a va pension from my deceased dad but she remarried in 2001 and she also gets social security both checks total 2200but social security doesn't know she gets the va pension and va doesn't know she gets the social security and she doesn't report either to the IRS so who can I contact to tell them
Chris - 17-Jul-15 @ 6:59 PM
I verbally agreed to a workers comp settlement while waiting in a room sick with cold and accepted the final offer. After receiving the attorney's letter outlining specifics; I sent him a letter telling him I could not accept the offer without seeing a breakdown of figures. Severalmonth's later I was forced to sign an agreement by my attorney explaining there were no other options. After finalization I saw a brief prepared for a Judge requesting dismissal of the action.Was my agreement binding?
JC - 16-Jul-15 @ 11:55 PM
We made an agreement with a fence company mid-may. We paid half money up front for supplies. After numerous calls and emails we finally had the fence started in June, after many more calls and emails never responded to at the beginning of July they got half the fence completed and promise to stay in it for free. The fence is still not completed do we have the right to tell them ourselves. Their voicemails are full they won't answer calls, Monday they actually stop by in front of the house and then just left no work no contact no nothing.
mj - 16-Jul-15 @ 3:34 PM
I have agreed to purchase a used car from Evans Halshaw, they agreed to rectify a couple of problems and saidthe car would be ready at a specific time on a specific day.On the day they rang to say the work had not been completed and I would have to wait another day to collect it.I had taken a day off work to collect the car, and was now going to be inconvenienced to collect it on an alternative date. As they did not complete the work and the car was not ready for collection as promised is this a breach of contract?
Suz19 - 15-Jul-15 @ 7:41 PM
@star - yes, if you have proof that the money was a loan and not a gift. If you have any written proof (you can include emails and texts) then this will help your case. Even if there is no evidence, you may still be able to use the small claims court (under £10,000). Your objective will be to convince a judge the reasons why the money was a loan and the interest you had agreed. However, before you go down the court route, it may be advisable to write to the person stating that you would like the money returned by a specific period of time, otherwise you will take action. This will sometimes do the trick. You will need to keep a copy of the letter for evidence. You don't say how much money she borrowed; but consumers can now take claims of up to £10000 to the small claims court in England. The multi track is the third track, which is reserved for the highest value claims, complex cases, cases in which there will be more than one expert for each side, and for cases that are likely to take more than a full day in court to hear all the evidence. I hope this helps.
ContractsAndAgreements - 10-Jul-15 @ 10:30 AM
I have a question: I own a paint company and priced a job and submitted the price quote to the woman who owns the residence. She called back the next morning and left a voicemail saying she would accept the agreement if we took off the garage service. I spoke with her on the phone and we agreed on the service minus the $600 for painting the garage.I resent the Service agreement and she responded asking if I took credit cards and I responded yes. I then asked to do a walk thru with my lead painter that afternoon at 4pm in which her husband attended. From there, I went and bought the paint for the job and left a voicemail with her asking to call me with a start date. She emailed me 48 hrs later saying she was unaware that her husband had already agreed to the service with another company and she would not need our services. Do I have a case here given her verbal agreement via voicemail and discussion?
Mike - 9-Jul-15 @ 7:48 PM
@Caroline - you should in the first instance complain directly to the company if this clause was said verbally, but has not appeared in the contract. If you get no joy, then you should complain to the Financial Ombudsman
Ed - 9-Jul-15 @ 2:41 PM
Goodmorning, a friend borrowed money from me in May 2006. We agreed that she will pay me once she has money with a certain amount of interest. Until now there is no payment made including the principal. Can I bring it to court? pls help me.
star - 8-Jul-15 @ 2:57 AM
My son took out an insurance policy after a lengthy phone call with a car insurer that specialised in young persons insurance.... at the time he was on a provisional licence. He wanted to clarify how much it would increase once he passed and stated he could not afford that. He was told they did a special deal whereby if he paid a premium amount it would not go up once he passed..... he opted to do this and paid his deposit and set up his direct debit... 30 days later they took his first payment and 32 days later he phoned to tell them he had passed his test.... this was when they announced that he had passed in under the 40 days that they had verbally told him he could not do ( he has no recollection of this clause but apparently they have recorded the call and it was stated!) Therefor his premiums would nearly double... naturally all he could do was cancel and find a different insurer.... my point however is that this "clause" is not in any of the documentation that was sent out in the post..... can they do this ? It was apparently mentioned twice in the 50 minute phone call but if its not there in writing how can we read our documents and then sign to agree terms and conditions if its not there to remind us !!! They are now saying he owes them money ?!! Another £75help !! It seems extremely unfair !
Caroline - 7-Jul-15 @ 7:15 AM
we signed a contract whichappointed an auction house to sell a property. Withina week of the contract it was clear they bordered on incompetent. we went to there offices an verbally cancelled to contract to sell the property,this was witnessed. Some three years later we sold the property using another estate agent. The auction house says a fee is due to them because we did not cancel in writing there contract ,although they agree we verbally changed there contact but they state the written document overrides this. Is this true?
o no! - 5-Jul-15 @ 5:14 AM
What is the penalty for tampering with a Deed of Assignment having witnessed and signed in court under the British Civl Law case?
Ann - 3-Jul-15 @ 3:59 AM
@dk - I don't think you have any recourse here, especially as the person selling sold the car themselves. You would never be able to prove the car was promised to you.
Helen - 2-Jul-15 @ 2:00 PM
@Zubair - I have included a CAB link here which should help you further. You should have been issued with a cooling off period, once any agreement was thought to have be made. If any of the stages do not apply to you in this article, it will give you information on what to do if you need more help or advice.
ContractsAndAgreements - 1-Jul-15 @ 10:49 AM
A builder gave me a quote for a exstention single story to my house we agreed on his quote but he couldn't do the work for 6 months I agreed to wait . 2 weeks before the job was to start he came to say he couldn't do it at that price we agreed on a new price shook hands amd he was to start in two weeks as agreed . The day before work was to commence he text me to say he wouldn't be doing the job as he had other work on and he felt it was to far to travel . Is there such thing as a verble contract in this case and where do I stand legally as we've wasted so much time with him going thru the job is there any way we can legally make him do the job as agreed or some kind of compensation . Your proberbley wondering why we would still want to use him but he has dome my brothers house and a friends house and made a very good job at a very reasonable prise it's hard to find good builders .
Phil - 30-Jun-15 @ 12:28 AM
Is a verbal agreement binding when the person selling doesn't own the item being sold. It was a car being left in a will but the car was sold before person died. The person who was to inherit the car made a verbal agreement to sell but is this binding as the owner of the car was still alive
dk - 29-Jun-15 @ 6:31 PM
Hi, i bought a new takeway business in England uk.An energy company rang to sell its services for electricity supply. I asked them to explain their packages.the representative went through differentterms and conditions during the discussion.I mentioned to him in the beginning that i am not buying any contract untill i get something in written or by email to satisfy myself. They took my conversation as an agreement and took over my contract from previous supplier and even i didn't know that.I chose a cheap supplier in next few days but this company having objection to transfer my electricity to the supplier of my choice. .the cheaper one. The company i spoke on phone only , using a partof telephonic conversation as a proof of contract agreement and sent me a short audio clip as a proof of contract agreement while they hiding the rest of conversation. Your advice in this regard would be much more appreciated. Regards zubair
Zubair - 28-Jun-15 @ 12:42 PM
If a written law conflicts within its own articles what principle would a judge use to reach his decision. Article fifteen of the law states that the committee shall be in force for 12 months and within 2 months must hold election. Article 40 says they are entitled to stay until elections are held. I believe the decision should be based on art. 15 because it constricts any committee to that time period otherwise they would remain until death.
Standeman - 27-Jun-15 @ 1:27 PM
@tinkerbell - You really should have had an agreement drawn up from your solicitor from the start, especially if you have been handing over money. Is there nothing at all in writing? Even emails? You would have to be able to prove that the money was being given for the purchase. However, we would hope that the brother and sister would naturally return the money you paid, if they had renaged on the promise. You don't say what theri stance is, so it is difficult to advise further. You may have to seek some added legal advice.
ContractsAndAgreements - 25-Jun-15 @ 10:16 AM
@Young - I'm afraid we can't advise here as we only deal with UK-based law and have no knowledge of the workplace law outside this country.
ContractsAndAgreements - 24-Jun-15 @ 12:24 PM
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