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  • My Legal Briefcase

    I “Loaned” it to You, Give it Back! You Gave it to Me, I’m Keeping it!” Part One
    Posted: 2011-01-06 07:00:30

    By Laurie Lonsdale

    How many times have you heard two young children argue, where one demands for his or her toy to be returned and the other claims the first child ‘gave’ it to him?  Next thing you know, tears are shed and the screaming begins, with accusations like: “But you GAVE it to me, so it belongs to ME now!” and rebuttals of:  “No, I didn’t.  I only LOANED it to you; now I want it BACK!”  With one party claiming an agreement was reached and other party denying it, and little or no proof as to where the truth lies, often the situation isn’t resolved until a parent or adult steps in to settle the matter.

    Unfortunately, such situations are not unique to children – it happens all too often in the adult world, as well.   And when it does, tears and screaming are replaced with lawsuits and the courtroom becomes the level-headed adult.

    Some people think that ‘verbal agreements’, otherwise known as ‘oral agreements’, are not enforceable by law. The argument is that, without benefit of the agreement in writing, it is hard to prove and just as difficult to enforce.  And that’s very true.  But sometimes there’s more to it than just a matter of whether an item, or even money, was a gift or a loan.  In incidents of verbal agreements, often the dispute between the parties lies in whether there was ever ‘intent’ to contract, whether either party acted in a way that would indicate a contract existed, what the terms of the contract were, and whether the parties agreed to any or all of those terms.

    SoÂ…Â…. with much in dispute as to what might or might not have been agreed upon, is a verbal agreement enforceable?

    Image: Louisa Stokes /

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