Verbal contracts in Oklahoma are enforceable but be careful. Whether or not your specific verbal contract is enforceable, the short answer is, “It depends.” That is because only certain contracts are required to be in writing. But first, you might ask, “What is a contract?” A contract is an agreement between two or more persons to do or not do a certain thing. The agreement can be written or oral. There are two types of contracts: express or implied. An express contract exists when the terms are stated in words. An implied contract exists when the terms are expressed by conduct. A business contract attorney can help to understand the difference.
Do We Have a Contract?
For a contract to exist, the parties entering the agreement must have the capability to do so, consent to the agreement, the agreed-upon terms must be legal, and the parties must have sufficient cause or consideration for agreeing. Typically, persons who are considered “capable” of entering a contract are adults (18+) with sound minds. The parties’ consent must be voluntary, mutual, and communicated by each to the other. Generally, consent is not present if obtained under duress, fraud, undue influence, or by mistake.
Most verbal contracts are enforceable. However, Oklahoma law requires certain contracts to be in writing. This is due to the contract’s complex nature or a dispute about contract terms. For example, you might find yourself in a pickle if you and the other party disagree about specific contractual terms. As you can imagine, determining who is right would be impossible in that kind of situation. But suppose there was a document to reference. In that case, a dispute about the terms is more manageable. That is why it is always best practice to put any agreement in writing to avoid any issues.
Some Contracts Must be in Writing.
In Oklahoma, the following contracts must be in writing: contracts where the terms of the agreement will not be performed within a year, contracts for the sale of items that are $500 or more, marriage contracts, and contracts to lease for longer than a period of one year or for the sale of real property.
Just because a contract is in writing does not mean it is automatically valid, however. For a contract to be valid, it must meet the following requirements:
- An offer and acceptance—which means that one person makes an offer, and another person accepts that offer.
- A lawful purpose—the contract must be made with lawful intentions; you cannot agree to illegal terms or exchange of illegal items.
- Lawful consideration—there must be a lawful exchange of money or goods between you and the other party.
- Certainty of terms—the contract terms must be clear, complete, and not easily mistaken.
- Consent of the parties—the parties must agree and consent to the terms of the contract at the time it is made.
Should Construction Contracts be in Writing?
The answer remains, “It depends.” For example, if a construction contract covers building a house that will take more than a year to complete, it must be in writing. But suppose you hire someone to build a fence in your backyard. If it is estimated to take one week to complete, then a verbal contract suffices.
Nevertheless, it is still best to always write out the contract terms regardless of whether Oklahoma law says you don’t have to. The last thing you want to deal with is a big dispute about what you and the other party agreed to do. Most contracts can be informal. Just writing the terms down on a sheet of paper and signing it is usually enough.
Oklahoma Construction Contract Lawyer
If you are unsure whether your contract should be in writing, or if verbal contracts are enforceable we can help. There are benefits to contacting an attorney before agreeing to enter a contract. An attorney can explain Oklahoma law and how it applies to your specific agreement. Additionally, they can review the contract terms and advise if they are fair and reasonable to you.
Kania Law Office has considerable experience helping clients with construction agreements. Speak with our attorneys about your situation, and we will provide you with valuable guidance on how to proceed. To learn more about how we can help, call (918) 743-2233 or contacting us online.