Can I recover damages on an oral agreement?

A client recently asked me: “can I recover damages on an oral agreement?” My answer: “That depends.”

It is always preferable from a legal perspective to reduce to writing any agreement with another person. It simply makes things easier and more straight forward.
Sometimes, for one reason or another, that just is not done. But, not all is lost. Many oral contracts are enforceable – some are not.

Illinois’ Statute of Frauds law makes clear that oral agreements are generally NOT enforceable when:
(1) It is an agreement for the sale of land
(2) It is an agreement for a term of longer than one year
(3) It is an agreement where one person assumes another’s debt
(4) It is an agreement for the sale of goods worth more than $500
(5) It is a promise made by executors and administrators of an estate.

Generally, if the agreement in question does not involve one of these 5 categories, it is likely enforceable if the terms are clear and can be proven. Consider a circumstance where one party verbally agrees to provide a service, performs the service, and the second party fails to pay for the service. A court is likely to find an enforceable agreement was made and that reasonable payment should be expected for the service provided. If there is any written communication between the parties, such as emails, that can be helpful to prove a valid contract existed. Did anyone else observe the deal being made? – witnesses can be very helpful.

If you believe that someone made a deal with you but is not holding up their end of the bargain, contact Donnelly Law LLC.

The information in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute formal, legal advice. Consult with an attorney from Donnelly Law LLC for advice about your circumstance.

Posted by: craigdonnelly on March 28, 2017