If I verbally committed to sell something, am I allowed to change my mind and not sell if I’ve received no payment?

UPDATED: Oct 28, 2013

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If I verbally committed to sell something, am I allowed to change my mind and not sell if I’ve received no payment?

The guy is threatening to take me to court. I agreed to sell a horse for $4000.

Asked on October 28, 2013 under Business Law, South Dakota


Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you are not allowed to change your mind once you have agreed to sell something for a given price, with few exceptions, and it does not sound like your situation falls under an exception.  The basic elements of forming a contract are offer and acceptance and consideration.  Here, either you offered to sell the horse or he offered to buy.  The other of you accepted.  The consideration for you is the $4,000 and for him is the horse.  If one of you had defrauded the other or misrepresented ability to pay, there might be grounds to void the contract, but that does not appear to be the case here.  You may not arbitrarily change your mind.

However, should you refuse to sell and should the guy sue you, his monetary damages will be limited to the benefit of the bargain to him.  For example, say he goes shopping for a similar horse and the only one he can find that is equally good costs $5,000.  His damages in a lawsuit against you would be $1,000 - the difference between what he paid and what he would have paid if you had gone through with the sale.  Of course, he could sue for specific performance, attempting to force you to sell him the horse for $4,000.  However, if you in the meantime have sold it to someone else, that will not be possible.



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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption