The next time you negotiate the terms of the contract, make sure they find at an early stage of negotiations that no agreement is valid and applicable, unless a written contract containing all the terms of the contract is signed by both parties and it has the power to sign a contract for you or for your company. Just like the aunt in our imaginary scenario, you`re probably better off documenting a written agreement. Something as simple as a promised note, detailing the nephew`s promise to repay his aunt, could have avoided any quarrel over their agreement. Finally, it is less difficult to ask family members for a written loan than to bring them to justice. With the economy, as it is, I have a lot of clients who come to me recently trying to force an oral agreement. I`ve seen contracts up to $200,000.00 that were made with a handshake. Now a handshake is beautiful, I appreciate a solid handle as well as the nearest person. But is it worth blaming the subject if the agreement goes south? It is better for ALWAYS to have signed a writing of the parts. But what if this advice comes too late? If two or more parties reach an agreement without written documents, they will enter into an oral agreement (formally known as an oral contract). However, the authority of these oral agreements can be a bit of a grey area for those who do not know the law of contracts. We generally consider a contract to be a more or less “formal” document signed by all parties to the agreement, but the statutes of fraud do not require that all contractual terms be defined in a document.
The Courts of North Carolina have ruled that a number of emails and letters between two parties regarding the negotiation of the land purchase can create a written contract under the current Fraud Act. As long as the correspondence arises from a person entitled to enter into the contract and includes a meeting of the spirits and all the essential provisions of the agreement (offer and acceptance), a legally enforceable contract can be established without either party having signed a document containing all these conditions. Most states, including North Carolina, have one or more laws that require certain agreements to be entered into in writing and signed by a natural or legal person against whom the agreement is applied.