Are oral contracts legally binding?

UPDATED: Nov 21, 2011

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Are oral contracts legally binding?

I have helped start a partnership business and now my partner is excluding me from business meetings, saying I’m lucky just to be a small part. There is no paper documented contract, just an oral agreement. Do I have the right to sue?

Asked on November 21, 2011 under Business Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Oral contracts or agreements are generally binding and enforceable, subject to the following:

1) Certain types of agreements (varying by state) must be in writing to be enforceable. As a general matter, those are agreements which must take more than 1 year to peform; agreements to buy real estate; agreements to assume another's debt(s); and sometimes, agreements involving more than a certain dollar amount (e.g. for more than $5,000). If you re-post your question with more detail about the nature of the agreement and your state, someone can answer whether that is an agreement that would need to be in writing.

2) Of course, proving the existence and the terms of an oral agreement can be difficult, if the other party(ies) the agreement dispute your recollection of it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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