How To Prove The Existence Of An Oral Contract

Posted on: 30 March 2016

Did you know that oral contracts are enforceable? Yes, you can agree to babysit for your neighbor in exchange for use of his or her lawnmower, shake your hands on it, and it will be legally binding for both of you. The problem comes when your neighbor renegades on the deal and declines to allow you use the lawnmower. If you sue, you will need to prove that the contract actually existed. Here are three ways you can prove an oral contract:

Provide Witnesses

One of the easiest ways to prove the existence of an oral contract is to provide witnesses to support your claim. This is why it's dangerous to make an oral contract alone where only the two of you can testify to the existence of your agreement. However, if you discussed the issue while sipping coffee together with a couple of other friends, then they can back up your claim and have the court enforce the contract.

Produce Supporting Documents

The absence of a contract doesn't mean there aren't other related documents you can use to prove its existence. Use those related documents to support your case. For example, if you were babysitting for your neighbor and he or she mentioned it in a thank you note, the note becomes evidence for the contract. If the neighbor sent you an email reminding you of his or her child's favorite games, you could use the email as evidence. In short, use anything that mentions your agreement or its elements, and whose authenticity can be verified.

Prove That You Did Your Part

Lastly, proving that you met your side of the bargain may also help to strengthen your claims. It's difficult for the court to agree with you if you never took any step in living up to your word. Therefore, if you agreed to babysit in exchange for the use of a lawnmower, prove that you actually babysat the child. Is there a witness who can testify for you? Did the parent give you a thank you note for taking care of their child? These are examples of proving that you fulfilled your duty as per the contract.

Note, however, that the plaintiff bears the burden of proving the existence of an oral contract. This means the court will assume the contract doesn't exist, and it's your job to prove it otherwise. This means oral contract lawsuits can get complicated and messy. Therefore, if you do make an oral contract, it's best to follow it up with a written one. For more information, speak with a local attorney.