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The Law & Verbal Agreements

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 16 Nov 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 seconded to another region for a few months earlier this year.As the end of the secondment came closer a senior Manager approached me with an offer to stay for a further 4 months.I said that I’d ask my family (as the secondment means I have to be away from home during the work week).After much consideration I agreed on the basis that I would be paid the additional money monthly over the next 4 months.Every week I’ve had a meeting with the manager and there has been a different reason as to why it hasn’t been paid.I have now been there 9 months and was told that they can’t pay me the money.I have emailed the manager at least once a month with the agreement but haven’t had any written acknowledgment back.Directors, HR and other senior managers have been involved and discussed this with me but it’s just been verbal agreements on their part. Please advise if I can take any further steps. Thank you.
AB - 16-Nov-17 @ 6:30 PM
Bucko - Your Question:
A college from my work place asked me to build her a computer for her son ( I have qualifications in building and repairs of computers ) She agreed verbal and also over text and email for a £400 computer build afew months back and I told her I will supply invoices for parts and anything else after completion including boxes Afew weeks ago after giving me £250 out of the £400 (abit at a time over a few months since may ) shes demanded proof for parts total of £400 she has also now said she dosnt want the computer or any parts already ordered many over the 30 days return and has made threats for police courts also getting other people involved and bombarding me and family members with messages I have been told by citizens advice I have done nothing wrong and I shouldn't have to give her anything back as she has backed out of the deal before completion and I shouldn't hand her any proof of purchase only invoices she is now making threats to go to court and make my life hell as she's says What's my best option are citizens advice correct in saying not to give her anything as she has broken the contract

Our Response:
If you were building the computer for £400, some of this would be your own cost for labour (unless you had agreed there would be no charge for labour). If you wish to give her proof of the parts you have bought, then you are free to do so. But, your client isn't at liberty to demand how you have spent the money, your agreement is that you produce the computer at the end. If you can prove the work was on course as agreed (if she takes the matter to the small claims court) then your customer hasn't any grounds to complain. As Citizens Advice claims, she reneged on the agreement not you.
ContractsAndAgreements - 13-Nov-17 @ 2:22 PM
A college from my work place asked me to build her a computer for her son ( I have qualifications in building and repairs of computers ) She agreed verbal and also over text and email for a £400 computer build afew months back and I told her I will supply invoices for parts and anything else after completion including boxes Afew weeks ago after giving me £250 out of the £400 (abit at a time over a few monthssince may ) shes demanded proof for parts total of £400 she has also now said she dosnt want the computer or any parts already ordered many over the 30 days return and has made threats for police courts also getting other people involved and bombarding me and family members with messagesI have been told by citizens advice I have done nothing wrong and I shouldn't have to give her anything back as she has backed out of the deal before completion and I shouldn't hand her any proof of purchase only invoices she is now making threats to go to court and make my life hell as she's says What's my best option are citizens advice correct in saying not to give her anything as she has broken the contract
Bucko - 11-Nov-17 @ 3:29 PM
A college from my work place asked me to build her a computer for her son ( I have qualifications in building and repairs of computers ) She agreed verbal and also over text and email for a £400 computer build afew months back and I told her I will supply invoices for parts and anything else after completion including boxes Afew weeks ago after giving me £250 out of the £400 (abit at a time over a few monthssince may ) shes demanded proof for parts total of £400 she has also now said she dosnt want the computer or any parts already ordered many over the 30 days return and has made threats for police courts also getting other people involved and bombarding me and family members with messagesI have been told by citizens advice I have done nothing wrong and I shouldn't have to give her anything back as she has backed out of the deal before completion and I shouldn't hand her any proof of purchase only invoices she is now making threats to go to court and make my life hell as she's says What's my best option are citizens advice correct in saying not to give her anything as she has broken the contract
Bucko - 11-Nov-17 @ 3:10 PM
Lauren2392 - Your Question:
HiWhen my employer advertised my job it stated my position comes with a company car. I have the job advertisement to prove this and I also have a email from my manager stating that he advised me my position comes with a company car.HR are now saying that the position doesn’t come with a company car and as it isn’t in my contract I am not contractually entitled to one and therefor they won’t give me one even though I am performing all duties as set out in my job description.I had to pass my 6 months probation before being able to have a car and I feel I have been seriously misled. Does my job advertisement and the email I have from my manager form part of a contract? I have raised a grievance and I am hoping to take this information in with me.ThanksLauren

Our Response:
You would need to refer to your job offer confirmation in writing, which would have laid out the terms of your employment. You would have to raise the grievance and show the email and the advert to your employer, stating that you took the job on this assurance. You would have to seek advice from ACAS to see whether you have any recourse to take legal action.
ContractsAndAgreements - 7-Nov-17 @ 12:37 PM
Hi When my employer advertised my job it stated my position comes with a company car. I have the job advertisement to prove this and I also have a email from my manager stating that he advised me my position comes with a company car. HR are now saying that the position doesn’t come with a company car and as it isn’t in my contract I am not contractually entitled to one and therefor they won’t give me one even though I am performing all duties as set out in my job description. I had to pass my 6 months probation before being able to have a car and I feel I have been seriously misled. Does my job advertisement and the email I have from my manager form part of a contract? I have raised a grievance and I am hoping to take this information in with me. Thanks Lauren
Lauren2392 - 4-Nov-17 @ 8:44 AM
David - Your Question:
I was wondering if I may ask a question here- I looked for the information on the internet, but because of the particular terms of the arrangement, I could not really find an answer.I work as a personal assistant for a disabled person, 2 weeks on 2 weeks off live in basis. I get paid (payslip) every 4 weeks. I work minimum 12 hours/day/ 14 days.My question is: I am legally entitled to paid holiday after a year and if so, how many days?When I start the job we had a verbal agreement.I would very much appreciate if somebody will answer to me.

Our Response:
You can see all you need to know via the gov.uk link here. Regardless of whether you are working for an individual, you are still eligible for holiday pay. This should be calculated pro-rata on the hourly basis you work. You can calculate your holiday entitlement via the gov.uk link here . You do not have to wait a year to be entitled to take annual leave, you accumulate leave entitlement as you work.
ContractsAndAgreements - 3-Nov-17 @ 11:59 AM
I was wondering if I may ask a question here- I looked for the information on the internet, but because of the particular terms of the arrangement, I could not really find an answer. I work as a personal assistant for a disabled person,2 weeks on 2 weeks off live in basis. I get paid (payslip) every 4 weeks. I work minimum 12 hours/day/ 14 days. My question is: I am legally entitled to paid holiday after a year and if so, how many days? When I start the job we had a verbal agreement. I would very much appreciate if somebody will answer to me.
David - 2-Nov-17 @ 9:49 AM
@sarah - It's up to your mum what she wishes to do with her money, not your sister. Unless your mum has dementia or anything that your sister can prove you have taken advantage her then there is little your sister can do. Your sister may think she has personally been treated unfairly, in which case she would have to take this up directly with your mum.
GregF - 30-Oct-17 @ 12:36 PM
my mother lent us a lge sum of money. initially 100,000 6 yrs ago. then another 80,000 2 yrs ago. we had an agreement verbal and the amounts written in her diary. We agreed to pay her the interest only on the loan at 3%. she never wanted the money back just the interest. last year mum said stop paying the interest I don't want the money. so we stopped. my sister has found out and is furious. many emails of slander and abuse. she believes we a have taken advantage of mums goodwill ( she has some confusion) she wants us to back pay the amounts of interest she reakons are owed to her and to restatrt to pay interest again. or borrow it all and pay mum back she feels cheated blah blah. she is questioning everything. ??? does she have a right here ???mum is still saying she doesn't want the money should we pay the interest mum doesn't care but feels my sister has missed out ..????
sarah - 28-Oct-17 @ 9:51 AM
I had a verbal agreement with a coworkers partner to personally rehome an abadoned kitten that was brought into the vets she worked at. I was due to have the cat today but woke up this morning with a very long facebook message from my coworker to say he has bad news and his partner had decided she now wanted the cat herself after being told that wasn’t an option until her mum saw how cute and fluffy it was. I know that pets are classed as property and would like confirmation if this is now a theft case as technically since 1.30pm on Tuesday, both my coworker and his partner told me the cat was mine.
Lozzaaa - 26-Oct-17 @ 1:21 AM
It seems a lot of contracts are made verbally on the telephone these days, for example arranging or cancelling insurance, being offered and accepting mobile telephone offers, changing electricity supplier, etc, all sorts of verbal agreements. I understand verbal agreements are legal, but that they can be difficult to verify and enforce. Companies are allowed to legally record telephone calls without informing the other party, but what is the case for individuals? I now try to record all phone calls I have with businesses for the purposes of record and to protect myself against the lies and cheating that seems to be getting more and more frequent these days and to hold them to their promises. If I don't inform the other party I am recording the conversation, will the recording still be accptable as evidence in court if there is a dispute in a verbal contract?
Rick - 25-Oct-17 @ 12:15 PM
I lent a friend in financial difficulty £700 on the condition that she would pay me back the following month after pay day.It's now been almost 18 months and I've only had half the money back.I still have the WhatsApp conversation where I offered the money and she agreed to repay, is this enforceable legally and how should I go about this?
TheGrubb - 24-Oct-17 @ 5:04 PM
@Sw - If no money has exchanged hands, then you have no rights of ownership of the sofa and the seller has every right to change her mind.
Robertt - 24-Oct-17 @ 2:48 PM
@Rubydouby - did your mum leave a will? If the house is in your sister's name, she effectively owns it regardless of whether you paid the mortgage or not. Where has your sister who owns the house disappeared to? You'd have to go an see a solicitor - but I don't think there is a lot you can do as it is your sister's property at the end of the day if her name is on the deeds.
Gel - 24-Oct-17 @ 10:45 AM
Hi Myself and 3 sisters had a verbal agreement that when our mother died her house profits would be split. One of my sisters daughters had the morgauge put into her name when it was first bought over 20 years ago because of mums finance problems. We all paid the morgauge between us untill we could not afford to and only one sister then carried on paying it. Mum died last week and the sisters daughter has sold the property to her step dads business without telling us and not for the full market value. What can we do about this. The sisters daughter has never paid any morgauge payments and is emergrating to new zealand at the end of the month. What can we do Thank you.
Rubydouby - 23-Oct-17 @ 11:31 AM
Gus - Your Question:
I worked with a firm and while I was working there I've been sent to get qualified further, they paid the plane and the B&B. Now because I ended the contract with them before one year they said I need to pay that money back but I was never informed about that verbally nor in writhing, actually what they say is that the manager verbally informed me that I need to repay the money if I don't stay one ear with them and she never even talked with me not just once. Yes I heard a rumor through the company after I finished the course but never from them. Are they entitled to do that?

Our Response:
Unless this agreement formed part of your employment contract or you signed a form in agreement, there is little your employer can do to pursue this.
ContractsAndAgreements - 20-Oct-17 @ 2:21 PM
We booked two weeks with Heart of the Lakes Ambleside for a cottage and a later week in September 2017. They did not inform us that construction work behind the cottage had been going on since before we booked. We contacted them and they told us to put it in writing when we got home. The second week this was added to by the road behind being dug up to lay pipes to the cottages. They breached their own written T&C's by not informing us of 'anything which may affect our holiday.' and twice by failing to move us. They have refunded half of the money but we lost all enjoyment of the holiday. Their solicitor says that they have no obligation to inform us of the construction works as it outside their control and that we refused a move to alternate accommodation. However, Heart of the Lakes have admitted that they knew about the construction work and that they should have informed us and moved us. Their excuse was that no one else had complained. They have failed on three of their T&C'S and we spent the whole two weeks with constant construction noise, even of a weekend. When we had booked we asked if the cottage was quiet and were informed that there was a B road at the back which went quiet at night and still we were not informed about the construction. Their legal team state in a letter to us that they had no lawful obligation to us. I thought that T&C'c were binding as if we had infringed them we would have been liable so why shouldn't they?
Caz - 20-Oct-17 @ 1:50 PM
A lady was selling a sofa to me as she was moving house, although on her moving day she did offer to deliver to me I didn't have the cash that day to pay her so I organised for it to be picked up by a van the following day which was going to cost me to pick up the sofa and deliver it. However the morning of the pick up she went back on her word and said she's keeping it I've lost out on the sofa and the delivery guy has had to be let down too how would I stand
Sw - 20-Oct-17 @ 9:06 AM
I worked with a firm and while I was working there I've been sent to get qualified further, they paid the plane and the B&B. Now because I ended the contract with them before one year they said I need to pay that money back but I was never informed about that verbally nor in writhing, actually what they say is that the manager verbally informed me that I need to repay the money if I don't stay one ear with them and she never even talked with me not just once. Yes I heard a rumor through the company after I finished the course but never from them.Are they entitled to do that?
Gus - 19-Oct-17 @ 8:06 PM
Emcd - Your Question:
We have been renting our house for the last 10 years. This last year the landlord decided to renovate the house (which it needed but we hadn't asked for) and so we (myself, husband and 2 small children) spent the best part of a year living amongst building works/without a useable kitchen or bedroom for periods at a time) and continued paying full rent throughout. Before the work had started I had a telephone conversation with our landlord and asked if they were doing this work with the intention of selling or greatly increasing the rent, to which he said 'absolutely not, They just wanted the work done to maintain a good standard within the house'. (If that had been the case we would have looked to move out before the work was started). They have now told us that they want to impose a20% rent increase which means we can no longer afford to live here. Do we have any comeback on this at all?

Our Response:
Unless the rent increase is not fair and realistic and/or in line with other average local rents, unfortunately, there is little you can do. Please see gov.uk link here for more information.
ContractsAndAgreements - 13-Oct-17 @ 2:45 PM
2 years ago me and my husband had our wedding and we had a photographer whom we had paid in full weeks before the wedding. We had a written contract detailing all the services but, sadly no dates set for when we were to receive our videos and photos. We've been asking for them since after 6 months of marriage and we got a lot of stories. He even lost photos we took at the park after the church service. A few days ago I contacted him and recorded our conversation were he says he will send the photos by the end of this month. Can we use this recording as a form of evidence of a verbal contract in court?
Ceebee - 7-Oct-17 @ 11:25 PM
We have been renting our house for the last 10 years. This last year the landlord decided to renovate the house (which it needed but we hadn't asked for) and so we (myself, husband and 2 small children) spent the best part of a year living amongst building works/without a useable kitchen or bedroom for periods at a time) and continued paying full rent throughout. Before the work had started I had a telephone conversation with our landlord and asked if they were doing this work with the intention of selling or greatly increasing the rent, to which he said 'absolutely not, They just wanted the work done to maintain a good standard within the house'. (If that had been the case we would have looked to move out before the work was started). They have now told us that they want to impose a20% rent increase which means we can no longer afford to live here.Do we have any comeback on this at all?
Emcd - 6-Oct-17 @ 11:04 PM
J - Your Question:
I work sleep on shifts for a housing association. We work fifteen hours shifts but have a rest/sleep period of eight hours which we are paid hourly for. Historically (since I started employment five years ago), if we are disturbed and woken to deal with an incident, we claim for the time we are awake. So say we are woken at 02:00 and the incident takes two hours to resolve, we claim additional hours for that time 02:00-04:00, so an additional two hours on our claim forms. My employer has now said that they are no long paying this. Does this long standing arrangement have any legal backing to force the employer to continue paying? Any advice would be gratefully received.

Our Response:
Firstly, you would have to see whether this is factored into the terms and conditions of your employment contract. If it is not and there are no express contractual term covering the matter, you can attempt to show that you should have rights through was is seen as ‘custom and practice’. However, this is more complex and you would need further advice through your union or ACAS.
ContractsAndAgreements - 6-Oct-17 @ 10:22 AM
I work sleep on shifts for a housing association. We work fifteen hours shifts but have a rest/sleep period of eight hours which we are paid hourly for. Historically (since i started employment five years ago), if we are disturbed and woken to deal with an incident, we claim for the time we are awake. So say we are woken at 02:00 and the incident takes two hours to resolve, we claim additional hours for that time 02:00-04:00, so an additional two hours on our claim forms. My employer has now said that they are no long paying this. Does this long standing arrangement have any legal backing to force the employer to continue paying? Any advice would be gratefully received.
J - 4-Oct-17 @ 8:04 PM
I booked a space at a leisure centre for my son's bday party. The bouncy castle they set up was way different from the one the actually showed me as well as the placement of the kids table to eat which they set up on the other side of the building. Isn't this a breach of terms?
Frank - 30-Sep-17 @ 8:15 PM
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
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