Contracts are a key legal document used every day in business. A contract protects the interest of all parties by reducing their agreements to writing. A contract that meets all legal requirements is legally enforceable, which is vital when transacting business. However, is a verbal agreement ever enforceable in South Carolina? Our South Carolina business contracts attorney answers that question for us.
What Are the Basic Elements Required in an Enforceable Contract in South Carolina?
Contracts are customized for various needs. However, contract law requires that a contract has certain basic elements for the contract to be enforceable in court. The basic elements of a contract are:
- Two or more parties who are clearly identified within the contract;
- An offer to provide goods, services, or other items of value;
- Acceptance of the offer; and
- Consideration to be paid for the goods, services, or other items of value.
Simply put, a contract is a promise between parties to do something. The remaining terms of the contract describe the terms and conditions of the agreement. The parties to the contract must be competent to enter a contract. Minors and others who lack mental competency cannot enter valid, legally enforceable contracts. A contract that is too vague may also be difficult or impossible to enforce.
Can a Verbal Agreement be Enforced in South Carolina?
South Carolina laws recognize oral agreements in some cases. However, some contracts must be in writing to be enforceable, such as an agreement to sell/purchase real estate, an agreement to pay another person’s debt, and a contract that takes longer than one year to complete.
Even though the state might recognize and enforce an oral contract, that does not mean that it is a wise idea to do business with a handshake. It can be much more difficult to enforce a verbal agreement because there may be no evidence to prove that you had an agreement with the other party. If there were no witnesses to the agreement, you have nothing in writing to prove that you entered the agreement, and nothing of value has been exchanged between you and the other party, it is difficult to prove that the other party entered any agreement with you.
For that reason, it is typically best to put an agreement in writing whenever possible. Even a simple agreement can help ensure that you have legal remedies available if the other party defaults on the terms of the agreement or otherwise breaches the contract.
Filing a Lawsuit For Breach of Contract
Having a written agreement can help you seek damages in the event of a breach including:
- Compensatory damages
- Incidental and consequential damages
- Liquidated damages
- Specific performance
- Contract recession
- Reformation of the contract
- Attorneys’ fees and costs
You can also obtain compensation for breach of contract for a verbal agreement if you prove that the contract existed, and the other party breached the contract.
Made a Verbal Agreement? Contact a South Carolina Business Contracts Attorney Today
If you have questions about drafting or executing a contract, contact our South Carolina business contracts attorneys to discuss the matter. Our business attorneys can help you determine if you have a valid contract and explain your legal options for breach of contract.