It is an ancient saying that, according to the words that are written will the world be judged. This statement is at least true for many who take their matters before a court for a determination of their rights and interests. While courts also decide on matters not in writing, written words are generally far superior in a court of law than any oral or implied understandings between parties.
Consider a story I heard recently from an acquaintance. The man went into business with his best friend, and the two agreed to hold equal shares in the company. Things went well for a while, and the partners were profiting from their joint efforts. Because they were such good friends and shared a mutual trust, they chose not to put in writing the different agreements they made with respect to the business. Eventually the relationship went south, as they say, and the “best friend” usurped control over the entire business. He later threatened to sue the other partner, claiming no agreement ever existed. Now my acquaintance is eager to recover his share of the business profits, but with nothing in writing to show his entitlement, he may have a difficult time proving what belongs to him. He learned the hard way the importance of putting an agreement in writing—even when working with a close friend.
Even where parties to an agreement trust each other completely, and that trust is never lost, they would still be wise to put their agreements in writing. This ensures that each party clearly understands the intent of the agreement and protects against any confusion that may arise from inaccurate memories or other misunderstandings. If the agreement is later contested, a well-crafted agreement can potentially save the parties significant time and money that might otherwise be expended in fighting over the parties’ intent. Another inherent benefit to a written contract is that it is generally subject to a six-year statute of limitations (compared with a three-year statute for an oral contract), meaning it might be enforceable for a longer period of time following a violation of the agreement.
At Rowley Chapman Barney & Buntrock, we are experienced in many areas of law where clear written documents are more of a necessity than they have ever been. From wills to contracts to plea agreements to divorce petitions to accident settlement agreements, we are equipped to handle your legal needs and protect your interests in nearly any relationship or situation. If you are to be judged by the words that are written, let us help you write those words so you will be satisfied with the judgment.
Attorney Profile: Nathaniel Wadsworth, Business-Contract Attorney