If abusiness owes me money for work performedbutI don’t have a formal contract, canI sue?

About 4 years ago I opened up an iron works, and at that time I was offered 2 huge jobs (around $1,500,000 for both). I never did a legal contract, but I have many invoices and copies of checks. Also, the job is there and complete. I’m owed around $500,000. Can I take the owner to court and sue him, and is there any possibility of winning?

Asked on March 10, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can absolutely sue for work demonstrably done for someone. Verbal or oral agreements are enforceable--it's not required that a contract or work order be in writing. Obviously, a written contract is helpful (in the future, *always* have one), but it sounds like you have other evidence. Moreover, if work is done for someone and it's accepted--i.e. they don't reject or return the work as not commissioned or approved--the person accepting it has to pay for it; they can't take/keep the work or product then not pay.

Based on what you right, it would be well worth it for you to consult with a commercial or business attorney about taking legal action to recover the money owed you. Good luck.

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