What constitutes the breach of a verbal agreement?

UPDATED: Dec 19, 2014

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What constitutes the breach of a verbal agreement?

My 18 year old sister bought a dog from her school friend. The friend’s mother is now (6 months later) harassing my sister about returning the dog since my sister “violated the verbal agreement to neuter the dog”. The woman keeps telling my sister that she “is just a child and doesn’t know the way the legal system works”. My sister and the woman had no prior contact before today.

Asked on December 19, 2014 under Business Law, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A verbal--or more accurately, oral--agreement is breached the same way a written agreement is breached: if someone does not do what the agreement obligated or required them to do. The main difference between an oral and a written agreement in this regard is that with an oral agreement, it can be harder to prove what exactly was (and was not) in the agreement, since there is no writing to refer to: the agreement has to be proven in court (if there is a lawsuit) by the testimony of the parties to the agreement, telling what they recall the terms to have been.

New terms cannot be added after the fact: if there there was no agreement *as part of the sale* that your sister would neuter the dog, she does not have to (though it would be a good idea). Even if it was discussed later, if it wasn't part of the agreement under which the friend sold the dog (i.e. it wasn't a condition of sale that the dog would be neutured), your sister does not need to do anything in regards to neutering.

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