Can a written contract reduce to being oral if it is lost?

UPDATED: May 24, 2012

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Can a written contract reduce to being oral if it is lost?

Plaintiff wants to sue me for breach of contract but cannot find the contract. I also cannot locate the contract. I have a biolerplate contract that we usually use, and suggested that the terms are probably the same. If the plaintiff cannot find the contract, does the biolerplate become the accepted contract by the court or is it considered now an oral agreement (for which the statute of limitations has expire if it is)?

Asked on May 24, 2012 under Business Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A written contract does not become an oral agreement if a copy cannot be found--it is still a written agreement (such as for statute of limitations purposes), but one whose terms and conditions need to be proven in other ways, such as by testimony, emails, correspondence, or memos, or by looking at draft/sample agreements it was modeled on or derived from. Therefore, while the boilerplate agreement does not become the contract, the boilerplate agreement may provide evidence of what the contract's terms most likely were, if there is credible testimony or other evidence that the actual contract would have been similar to the boilerplate.

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