Legal Question in Consumer Law in Kentucky

verbal or oral contract

under what circumstances is a verbal or oral contract legally binding?

Asked on 2/03/09, 8:21 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Thomas McAdam Thomas A. McAdam, III, Attorney

Re: verbal or oral contract

It is not possible to give you a clear legal answer to your inquiry without a more detailed evaluation of the facts of your case. Several questions are presented:

1. Are any of the parties to the contract under 18?

2. Are the parties married to one another?

3. What are the exact terms of the agreement?

Generally speaking, oral contracts are legally binding, except when they violate Kentucky's Statute of Frauds. This law requires contracts to be in writing if conveyance of real estate interests is involved, or if the contract's term lasts for more than one year (e.g., a long-term lease, or payments for purchases over a period exceeding 12 months, etc.).

Additionally, there are certain contracts which are illegal because they are contrary to public policy (such as agreeing to pay a prostitute, or a contract to murder someone, etc.).

There are also certain limitations involving oral contracts between spouses, or between adults and minors. These limitations are complex, and not open to a short, simple explanation.

The vast majority of contracts entered into are, in fact, oral agreements. When you order a meal in a restaurant, you have orally agreed to pay the price indicated in the menu; and the restaurant has agreed to provide you with a suitable meal. Most of our daily purchases involve what are essentially oral contracts.

By the way, all contracts, even written ones, are "verbal." "Oral" contracts are not usually reduced to writing, and may involve "implied" terms (you may not have specifically told your waiter that you would only pay for your coffee, as long as it was served to you hot-- but your oral contract reasonably contains the understanding that you will not pay for a cup of cold coffee).

You should not take any action, based upon my advice, without consulting an attorney and explaining all the facts to him. You are best advised to seek the services of a competent Kentucky attorney. You can telephone your local bar association for a referral, or can find a good lawyer on-line at the Kentucky Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service:

Good luck!

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Answered on 2/04/09, 5:57 pm

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