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#271844 - 06/22/14 11:17 PM Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements
Ken Condon Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 06/13/07
Posts: 2918
Loc: Eugene, OR
This has long been a subject I have been curious about. Agreeing solely by your word upon a business or personal negotiation. Corporations need not apply or they should seek legal council.

For the purposes of this thread I am only concerned with an agreement between two individuals. Perhaps more, but for purposes here, only two for now. In my life I have always considered my word much more important, and way more binding than any negotiation written upon any paper and notarized. If I say I agree to do something I will indeed do so. I donít claim to be superior to anyone, but when I reflect upon who I am, I consider my word to be paramount. If I say I am going to do something I will fully intend to follow through with it no matter how difficult that might end up to being in the long run.

Of course s*** can and does happen and can change the equation. That is taken into consideration but my word is paramount and almost always I have followed through with it. Am I a fool? Or is that the way humans should interact with each other?

The thing that has most pissed me on in my life is when I have entered into such a negotiation with another individual only to be burned for whatever reason. In my view that is almost always an irreparable sin of the other. Either one says they are going to do something- and then does everything within their capacity to follow through with it- or keeps their mouth shut.

Is that a realistic expectation from others? Or one selves?
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#271845 - 06/23/14 12:13 AM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: Ken Condon]
california rick Offline
Member
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 36132
Loc: Bay Area, California

Judge Judy says that if it's not written down, both parties are foolish, essentially. Hmm
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#271846 - 06/23/14 12:28 AM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: Ken Condon]
Ardy Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 11646
Loc: San Jose, Ca USA
Ken
Let's make the fair assumption that your interactions with people are not careless

Despite that fact you find commitments are frequently broken

IMO that provides solid evidence that your expectations of others are unrealistic

I have found unrealistic expectations to disturb my peace of mind.
I therefore allow myself to have few expectations
And find myself happy when results conform to commitments

Sadly I must admit that I have become less scrupulous in meriting my commitment. Partly because of my own failing. Partly because I judge that it often does not matter much to others

Not a pleasant thing to write down. But there it is

.


Edited by Ardy (06/23/14 10:26 AM)
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#271849 - 06/23/14 08:12 AM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: Ken Condon]
keysersoze Offline
journeyman

Registered: 12/01/11
Posts: 881
My wife is executor on her late uncle's estate. What a nightmare. He was a hoarder, but had several pieces of property.

For all his life he sold used cars (pre-owned to the novice) and his main lot we are in the process of cleaning up. Scarp metal, tools, thousands of hub caps, antiques, cars - some running some not - and miscellaneous stuff that could create a dozen episodes of a pickers show. The place is an eyesore and the city through the years threatened to take legal action over having a "junk yard."

The lot is next to a car dealer who needs it for expansion and another competing dealer is across the street. My wife had it appraised and the dealer that was next to the lot has been after it for years for much needed expansion. My wife knew that dealer and his father had had a business relationship with her uncle for decades - sometimes hostile and sometimes very positive.

The dealer made an offer she considered fair as she hates having this dumped on her. She agreed to his offer. The dealer across the street had his lawyer contact her and they discussed the matter. The lawyer, representing his client, offered a $100,000 more. Said it was her decision, but she had not LEGAL obligation to honor a verbal agreement. She told him she had a MORAL obligation and the deal was already done. He thanked her for her honesty and the next day his client called her.

His response was if anything falls through on the deal his offer still stands. Praised her for her honesty.

My wife is not a business person. If I were in this situation I would have made no verbal commitments and merely have my Representative seeks out interested parties. She doesn't need the money or the aggravation.

My father dealt the same way. As a youngster I remember him making deals to sell scrap from his manufacturing business with just a handshake. To the circle he went in that was recognized by all. To break a handshake deal was to place someone in the persona non grata category.

We seem to have lost the man's word (or woman's) is a man's honor.
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#271851 - 06/23/14 10:28 AM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: Ken Condon]
Ardy Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 11646
Loc: San Jose, Ca USA
Fwiw
When I make a commitment that is like a contract
I guess I am pretty careful to honor that contract
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#271856 - 06/23/14 11:05 AM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: Ken Condon]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
veteran

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 11837
I will also offer a confession: I am a lawyer, but I prefer verbal agreements.

When I write down agreements, I usually only do it only if it is legally necessary, or to protect the other person - e.g., when I sell a car, or rent property, or when it is a really big investment. Most of the time, though, I shake hands and that's it. My lawn guy gets paid every time he comes to do the lawn - no contract. Even when he did extra work to thatch and reseed, we shook hands over an agreed price. When we had a housekeeper, same deal. The reality is that most of us engage in verbal contracts every day and never think twice about it. How many of us enter into a formal contract when we go to the grocery store? Usually we just pay the price on the shelf and trust that when it is added up, the total given is accurate. Sometimes we dicker over a price - "this can is dented" or "these were $.50, but this one didn't have a label".

Sometimes I get irritated that we, as a society, get too wrapped up in writing everything down but.... if you ever expect to go to court, a contract is only worth the proverbial "paper it is written on." If you never intend to go to court, fagettaboutit.
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A well reasoned argument is like a diamond: impervious to corruption and crystal clear - and infinitely rarer.

Here, as elsewhere, people are outraged at what feels like a rigged game -- an economy that won't respond, a democracy that won't listen, and a financial sector that holds all the cards. - Robert Reich

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#271857 - 06/23/14 11:46 AM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: Ken Condon]
Ken Condon Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 06/13/07
Posts: 2918
Loc: Eugene, OR
Yeah. Not a good question to ask lawyers.

Oh the humanity!
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#271859 - 06/23/14 02:24 PM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: Ken Condon]
pondering_it_all Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 4284
Loc: North San Diego County
The key is to have an on-going business relationship with those who you use oral contracts. Neither party is willing to burn the other, because the relationship is worth more than any one of the transactions.

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#271860 - 06/23/14 03:12 PM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: pondering_it_all]
logtroll Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/25/10
Posts: 6279
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
Seems like a couple of separate tracks here. One is about keeping your word - sounds like everyone is pretty much in agreement there, you do what you agree to do. I have had several run-ins with folks who don't see it that way lately, broaching agreements to buy stuff without even bothering to tell me they had backed out of deals... but what cha gonna do?

The other is about written contracts. I see a good deal of value in writing contracts for high dollar or complex agreements, because issues get identified and everyone is aware. But in the event of a default, a contract is just another piece of paper in court, or in other words, a license to engage in a miserable fight.

I had an odd circumstance a few years ago where we sold our house on a personal contract to some folks we know well, though aren't socially engaged. I wanted to do a simple contract containing the basics using a template. The other folks got scared up a little by some other advice and wanted to use a lawyer to draw up the papers. We agreed to use one lawyer, someone I had used before. She started in and before you know it the contract was pushing 20 pages and was getting uncomfortably adversarial about the "what would happen ifs", to the point where it looked to me like it would undermine our mutual trust and the friendliness of our current relations, and I had to insist that much of the language we were paying for be stripped out. The lawyer was offended and strongly advised that without all those "protections" we would be sorry. It's been 2-1/2 years now, all payments on time, they love the house, I have even gone over and fixed a couple of things gratis. The right amount of contract is good, too much can be destructive.
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#271863 - 06/23/14 08:06 PM Re: Legal Contracts vs. Oral Agreements [Re: logtroll]
california rick Offline
Member
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 36132
Loc: Bay Area, California
Originally Posted By: logtroll
Seems like a couple of separate tracks here. One is about keeping your word - sounds like everyone is pretty much in agreement there, you do what you agree to do. I have had several run-ins with folks who don't see it that way lately, broaching agreements to buy stuff without even bothering to tell me they had backed out of deals... but what cha gonna do?

This paragraph made me think of eBay. When someone "wins" a bid, they essentially are making a verbal agreement to go through with the purchase and the seller going through with the selling and shipping task.
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