Are e-mails a legal form of contract that can be upheld in a court of law?

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Are e-mails a legal form of contract that can be upheld in a court of law?

I have been e-mailing someone about writing a screenplay for them and they agreed to pay me $400 for it and 2% of the profits that the film makes. If for whatever reason they decide not to pay me the money or try to cheat me out of the profits, could the emails serve as a legal contract? Could I use them in a court of law to prove what I am owed and win the lawsuit?

Asked on July 26, 2011 North Carolina

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

E mails can in certain circumstances be evidence of an oral agreement between to people. If the e mail memorializes an offer, acceptance and considersation for something and is actually signed and mailed via U.S. mail or delivered in person, it can be a contract.

Your e mail statements about an agreement for $400 to do a screen play and 2% of profits could memorialize an oral agreement or an agreement implied by conduct as to the screen play. To be on the safe side, before you even start the screen play write up a written contract as to the agreement's terms and payment to be signed and dated by all parties. You might want to consult with a busienss attorney before you get too deep into this project.

Good luck.


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