Must a contract be written down?

Is a verbal agreement OK?

Asked on July 30, 2015 under Business Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No a contract need not be written; as a general rule oral contracts are as binding as written contracts. That having been said, proving the existence and the terms of such a contract can be difficult.

That having been said, some types of contracts must be in writing in order for them to be enforceable: those are agreements which will take more than 1 year to peform; agreements to assume another's debts; agreements involving more than a certain dollar amount and agreements to buy real estate.

However, whether wriiten or oral, in order to have a valid contract a person has to make a promise to do something or refrain from doing something that they are not otherwise legally obligated to do, and there must also be "consideration" (i.e. an exchange of something of value).

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.