What can happen if someone verbally agrees to pay for something and never does?

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What can happen if someone verbally agrees to pay for something and never does?

This girl in my school agreed to pay me for something and now after 7 weeks she hasn’t. I gave her 1 of the things and after 6 weeks of no contact with the girl sold the other thing to my friend. Now she refuses to pay me. What can I do?

Asked on October 25, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) As a general matter, oral or verbal contracts are enforceable. There are certain common exceptions--contracts to pay someone else's debt; contracts that take more than 1 year to perform; contracts for large dollar values (sometimes; depends on state) or real estate--but those are the exceptions, which must be in writing. Otherwise, oral contracts are enforceable.

2) The problem is, to enforce the orgal agreement, you'd have to sue--there is no other mechanism to do this. Even if you sued in small claims court, which is less costly and more informal, there are still some costs. Also, proving the terms of an oral agreement can be difficult, since it often devolves into "he said, she said." So it's questionable whether it is worthwhile to try to enforce the agreement.


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