Business owners in every industry use contracts for various aspects of their business operations and breach of contract is always a possibility. For example, they may use employment contracts for employees, partnership agreements or operating agreements to structure their business entities, and purchase agreements with vendors. In addition, business owners routinely enter leases for real estate and equipment, service contracts, contracts to supply customers with goods, and more. While having an Arizona business lawyer to help you draft and memorialize these contracts in writing is the best course of action, that doesn’t always happen.
The reality is that some people do business more informally than their lawyers prefer, which can lead to some significant problems. If the parties have a falling out or don’t quite agree on the terms of their “contract,” they may have a legal dispute. In this situation, you may need an Arizona commercial litigation attorney to help you sort out the matter and reach a resolution.
Contracts Can Be Verbal
If you discuss a business matter with an acquaintance and reach a certain agreement but later change your mind, the other party may have the right to hold you to your oral or verbal contract. An oral contract can be legally binding and, therefore, broken, just like a written contract. However, some exceptions exist to this general rule, in that some contracts must always be in writing to be legally valid and binding. Furthermore, you may find it more difficult to enforce an oral contract or prove a breach of contract since you have no written contract as evidence.
Some Contracts Must Be in Writing
Some types of contracts must be in writing and require your signature to be legally valid. These contracts fall under what is known as the “statute of frauds,” found at A.R.S. §44-101. For example, all transfers of interest in real property, such as an agreement to purchase a home, must be in writing. Transactions involving the transfer of goods worth more than $500 must also be in writing. Furthermore, a third party who guarantees a debt owed by someone else must be in writing. Likewise, any agreement that will take over a year for at least one party to complete its terms and conditions must be in writing. If any of these contracts are not in writing, they are not legally valid and binding under Arizona law.
Elements of Legally Binding Contracts
As long as your contract does not fall within the statute of frauds, and meets the basic requirements of a contract, then you have a legally enforceable contract, even if it is not in writing. A valid contract has three basic elements.
One element of a contract is an offer. Either you must have made an offer to another party to do something to fulfill an agreement, or the other party must have made an offer to you to do something to fulfill an agreement.
The next element is acceptance of the offer. In other words, did you say that you accepted or agreed to the offer the other party made to you? Alternatively, did the other party agree or accept your offer to them?
Consideration is the reason or the incentive for a person to enter into a contract and is often monetary. In determining whether a contract contained consideration, the question is whether the consideration for the contract was clear and specific. For example, you agree to pay another party $50 if he provides you with ten shovels. You agree on that price, and he calls you the next day to confirm that the agreed-upon price for the ten shovels is $50. You answer affirmatively. As a result, the consideration in this example is clearly and specifically the $50.
Oral Contracts and the Statute of Limitations
Like written contracts, oral contracts are subject to a statute of limitations or a deadline for filing a lawsuit for breach of contract. A party to an oral contract must file a suit for breach of contract within three years. After three years, the statute of limitations will prevent any further legal action concerning the alleged breach of contract.
We Are Here to Assist You with the Legal Needs of Your Arizona Business
If you are facing legal action for breach of contract, we can help. Our goal is to help you understand the legal matter your business is facing and represent your interests throughout any legal proceedings in which you are involved. Contact the offices of Provident Law today at (480) 388-3343 or online and schedule an appointment to speak with an Arizona commercial litigation attorney about your legal business matter.