Can you take someone to court if they owe you money if there is nothing in writing?

UPDATED: Jan 25, 2012

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Can you take someone to court if they owe you money if there is nothing in writing?

A friend owes me quite a bit of money he promised he would start paying me back right away. It’ but a been a couple months but I still haven’t gotten any money from him; I’m beginning to think I never will. Is there anyway I can take him to court make him pay back all the money he owes me?

Asked on January 25, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Legally, an oral (often called verbal) agreement or promise to repay money loaned is enforceable, since an oral contract, more generally, is enforceable. You could therefore sue your friend for breach of contract and seek the money he owes you.

As a practical matter, bear in mind that it can be difficult to prove the existence and the terms of the agreement, if there is nothing in writing and your friend "remembers" things differently; your chance of success, therefore, is not as good as if there was a written agreement.

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.

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