Contract Requirements and Legal Considerations in Spokane Washington

A written contract is the best way for any given business AND for a client/customer to ensure the agreement protects both parties. A contract must be obtained with full disclosure and it must be fair (it cannot be obtained by deceit, fraud, and/or misrepresentation).

In Washington, oral contracts are also enforceable (with a few exceptions). An oral agreement which contains an offer, an acceptance, and legal consideration paid by both parties can be fully enforceable and award damages against the party who breached the agreement.

The main issue with an oral contract is that often, it is very hard (if possible at all) to prove the terms, duties, and considerations of the contract. Although the parties can attempt to prove the important terms of the agreement, it is up to the party enforcing the contract to show, by the preponderance of the evidence, that the term was entered into and breached by the other party.

This legal standard is usually difficult to overcome as evidence can be disputed and witnesses can be brought in to rebut any allegation.

Local business owners in Spokane, Washington should have their contracts in writing.  Clients and customers should also procure a contract when having any given transaction that is important to the client/customer. A contract does not have to be complicated or several pages in length. However, it should outline the duties and responsibilities of each party including delivery times, payment amount, payment terms, warranties, refund/return policies, etc.

A written contract should be secured any time either party believes the amount of work and/or payment is sizeable. Also, written contracts should be procured when a party will have to continue performance after payment (i.e. a service agreement, a warranty, payment terms, interest terms, and/or liens).  In addition, contracts can be an effective tool for each party to disclaim or limit damages (i.e. liquidated damages clauses).

Remember, a contract outlines the terms of the transaction. By definition, a contract will then protect both parties as it will outline when a party does not perform according to those terms. A client/customer should also welcome the idea of having a written contract for the same reasons.

As noted above, oral contracts, although not preferable, are still enforceable in Washington. In many disputes, the terms of the oral contract can be easily shown by other writings (emails, letters, notes, etc). Many industries still operate on oral representations and promises. Contractors and sub contractors often negotiate and start work without any written document. This could lead to significant disagreements that still need to be addressed by a court.

If you would like to have your contracts drafted and/or reviewed by our office, or you have a contract dispute under an existing contract, please call us at (509) 927-3840 or visit our contact page.