The Importance Of Written Contracts

“Get it in writing.”  You have probably heard that expression about contracts before, and for good reason.  Contracts form a basic part of everyone’s life because they impact so much of it:  your car loan; your mortgage; your cable or satellite subscription; the company that takes care of your lawn, your business or partnership, your employment or employees, etc.  The list could go on forever.

You might have noticed that you have entered into a written contract for many such services.  That is because if any issues ever come up it is much easier to prove a written contract than a contract that is only verbal or oral, i.e., a “handshake deal,” which should be avoided whenever possible.  Shake hands when the verbal agreement is reached, and then get it on paper.  Can you imagine a car dealer shaking hands with you on your new car and then letting it go without a written purchase agreement?

The problem with handshake deals is that, if any questions ever arise about what the terms of the agreement were or whether there was even any agreement at all, a judge or a jury will have difficulty trying to determine which version of the agreement is correct if the parties dispute who said what and what was agreed to.  It can turn into a classic “your word against theirs” situation.  If you are the one who is trying to prove that there was a verbal contract or that the verbal contract was breached in some manner, and the other party disputes what you have to say, you may lose because the judge or jury will not be able to decide who is correct and who is wrong.

All such problems can be avoided if you have a written contract.  No one should have an issue with putting an agreement in writing because it is for everyone’s protection and ensures that there will never be any confusion or dispute over everyone’s obligations under the agreement.  If anyone ever refuses to put an agreement in writing and insist on just doing a verbal, handshake-type deal, get away from them because they are likely just trying to leave themselves room to later change the deal or completely get out of it and they know that it will be much harder to do that with a written contract.

As an example, those of you who have watched the movie “Jerry Maguire” saw Jerry the sports agent lose his best client because the client’s father refused to do a written contract and then signed his son with another sports agent.  That would not have happened with a written contract in place, which Jerry should have insisted on.  So should you.  Those of you who do not get a written contract may be surprised someday at how difficult it is to prove a verbal agreement.

Erbe Law Firm can help with your business practices or contract law claim.  If you need a Des Moines business practices or contract law attorney, contact Erbe Law Firm today.

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