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How Can I Enforce a Contract that I Don’t Have in Writing?

Scales of Justice

With certain exceptions, Oregon and Washington law both generally recognize and enforce contracts, even if they are not rendered in writing.

The most critical issue that arises is one of proof. While you may be able to get to trial on a jury issue of whether there was, in fact, a verbal agreement (based on a he-said, she-said dispute), it can often be difficult to prevail without some written evidence of an agreement.

Email communications often occur around the time of formation of an agreement (even if informal), and/or when a dispute about the agreement arises. Emails and/or text messages of this kind may be presented to show that an opposing party has “ratified” an agreement, i.e. accepted or affirmed it after the fact. When this occurs, it may be possible to overcome a defense under the statute of frauds.

Even if there is not an exchange of a promise for a promise, you may still have recourse. If you relied, to your detriment, on the promise of another, that reliance can serve as a substitute for an exchange of promises, which can then form the basis of a contract. [Please note that under these circumstances, as above, concerns of proof remain].

Be well, and please do not hesitate to contact us if you should have any questions or concerns.

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