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Can I Get That In Writing?

The Importance of Written Contracts and Agreements

by James M. Stein, Esq.

As a full-service law firm, we are able to provide for the many needs of our clients, from handling real estate, estate planning, and business transactions to lawsuits and litigation which take place in court. Although we are glad to help our clients with any legal need they may have, it is often disappointing to learn that many of our clients' conflicts could have been avoided.

The vast majority of our civil litigation involves the breakdown of some type of agreement between our client and another person or company. In most of those cases, the particular agreement involved only a handshake or the jotting down of some notes to memorialize the agreement. These types of informal arrangements lead to much confusion and, all too often, heated disputes.

For example, let's say Tom and Bob are friends. Bob owns numerous properties around town and needs to have them painted. Tom is a painter and he offers to paint all of Bob's houses for $10,000.00. Bob agrees and they shake on the deal. One week later, Tom finishes work on the first house and approaches Bob to receive his $10,000.00. In response to Tom's request for the money, Bob replies, "We agreed on a total of $10,000.00 for all of the houses." To which Tom replies, "No, we agreed on a price of $10,000.00 per house."

This is just a simple example of how even good friends can misunderstand one another and enter into agreements that are either unclear or have complex provisions which are difficult to remember.

It is far better to contact an attorney and have that attorney draft a contract for such an agreement. While it may seem expensive to work with an attorney to draft such contracts, the alternative is much more expensive. A lawsuit can cost as much as ten (10) times more than drafting a contract. The written contract protects all parties involved and drastically reduces the need for a lawsuit. It is much less likely that either party will misunderstand the terms of a written contract, and it is also less likely that either party will attempt to violate the terms of a written contract. Thus, it is simply safer all the way around.

Please feel free to contact us if you are contemplating any type of business arrangement with another person. We will be happy to advise you on the specific needs of your case. In this way, you can keep your business arrangements as pleasant and uncomplicated as possible.