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Oral Contracts Boston Legal

Oral Contracts in Boston: What You Need to Know

When it comes to contracts, the general rule of thumb is that they should be in writing. However, there are situations where oral contracts may be legally binding. In Boston, oral contracts are recognized by the law, but they require certain elements to be enforceable.

What is an Oral Contract?

An oral contract, also known as a verbal contract, is an agreement between two parties that is made through spoken words rather than a written document. Oral contracts can be as simple as a verbal agreement to exchange goods or services, or as complex as a business partnership agreement.

Enforceability of Oral Contracts in Boston

Under Massachusetts law, oral contracts are enforceable in certain situations. The primary requirement is that there must be a meeting of the minds between the parties. This means that both parties must agree to the terms of the contract and understand their obligations.

Additionally, the terms of the contract must be clear and specific. Vague or ambiguous terms can lead to disputes and make it difficult to enforce the contract.

Finally, there must be consideration exchanged between the parties. Consideration refers to something of value that is given by one party in exchange for something of value from the other party. For example, if one party agrees to provide a service in exchange for payment from the other party, consideration has been exchanged.

When Oral Contracts are Not Enforceable

There are situations where oral contracts may not be enforceable in Boston. One example is if the contract involves the sale of goods over a certain dollar amount. Under the Uniform Commercial Code, which is a set of laws governing commercial transactions, contracts for the sale of goods over $500 must be in writing to be enforceable.

Another situation where oral contracts may not be enforceable is if they violate the statute of frauds. The statute of frauds is a law that requires certain types of contracts, such as contracts for the sale of real estate, to be in writing to be enforceable.

Benefits of Written Contracts

While oral contracts may be legally binding in certain situations, there are many benefits to having a written contract. A written contract provides clear documentation of the terms of the agreement and can help to avoid disputes. It can also provide protection for both parties if one party fails to fulfill their obligations.

In addition, a written contract can include provisions for dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation, which can help to resolve conflicts quickly and efficiently.


While oral contracts may be enforceable in Boston, it is generally recommended to have a written contract in place to avoid disputes and provide clear documentation of the agreement. If you do enter into an oral contract, make sure that the terms are clear, specific, and agreed upon by both parties. If you have any doubts about the enforceability of an oral contract, it is always best to consult with a qualified attorney.