By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Contract Attorney

I recently read an article where a prospective customer called a website design company about their rates and services. The customer was asked his address and details about what he wanted them to do which was strange given there was nothing finalized. But, after a few days the company called saying the customer committed to their services and threatened to sue for violating a verbal contract.

Oral agreements lack written proof. Everything is oral, so it’s hard for either party to confirm or deny what’s been said, not said, agreed to, disagreed with, etc. Under these facts it doesn’t seem to me that the customer agreed to the ‘contract’. They asked you for a name and details, and the customer gave them that. If every time someone asked for my name when I was searching purchases, I’d have hundreds of verbal contracts. It’s normal to discuss rates and job details without having to agree to the contract, otherwise how and what will the contract be based upon? The customer was offering the opportunity for work, not offering work. Unless you agree to a contract offer there is no contract yet.

Contracts require offer, acceptance and consideration. They require a meeting of the minds to establish a contract. They can sue you, sure, but it would be very difficult for them to win. Neither party has lost anything of economic value.

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