You Didn't Get It In Writing

Updated: Sep 11

Can you still have a contract in Washington State, even if you didn't get it in writing?


The writing requirement is actually an exception to the general rule about contracts, which is that an oral contract is allowable, as long as the transaction otherwise meets the elements of contract formation. Those elements are as follows:

  1. Offer: A clear offer to be legally bound to certain terms if accepted.

  2. Acceptance: A clear an unequivocal acceptance.

  3. Consideration: Has each party agreed to do or not do something for the other that he is not otherwise legally obligated to do? In other words, a promise doesn't count unless the person receiving the promise exchanged something for that promise.

(NOTE: contracts for the sale of goods follow similar rules, but are less demanding than the general rules for service contracts.)

A court will enforce oral contracts if there is enough evidence that there was a proper offer, acceptance, and consideration under the law. There are only a few types of contracts that a court absolutely won't enforce if they are not in writing.

Which contracts have to be in writing?

The common types of contracts that must be in writing come from a rule known as, the statute of frauds. It requires that the following types of contracts must be in writing in order to be enforceable in court:

  • Contracts in consideration of marriage

  • Contracts that cannot be performed within one year

  • Contracts for the sale of an interest in land

  • Contracts where an executor pays estate debts from his own funds

  • Contracts for the sale of goods of $500 or more

  • Contracts of suretyship

If you have more questions about the statute of frauds in Vancouver, Washington, or about contracts in general, please contact In-house | On-site to speak with a Vancouver WA attorney.

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