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Does a Contract Have to be in Writing to be Enforceable?

In short, the answer is not always, but it is always a good idea.

Unfortunately, it is very common for parties to make agreements without a signed contract.  Many verbal agreements may be enforced without a written contract, but it is always better to put it in writing.  For one, it is much easier to enforce any agreement when it is in writing.  It is also much easier to resolve differences and avoid litigation when there is a written agreement to look back on when problems arise.

What is The Statute of Frauds?

Notwithstanding situations where a verbal agreement may be enforceable, some agreements must be in writing to be enforceable.  These situations are described within a legal doctrine commonly referred to as The Statute of Frauds. 

The Statute of Frauds is a very old legal doctrine which was established to protect contracting parties from fraud.  It prevents a court from enforcing certain agreements when the agreement is not reduced to writing.

What types of contracts must be in writing in Florida?

The following is a generalized list of contracts that must be in writing to be enforced by Florida courts:

  • A special promise made by any person to answer for the debt, default or miscarriage of another.
  • An agreement made on the consideration of marriage.
  • A contract for the sale of land.
  • A contract that cannot be performed within one year from the date it was made.
  • A guarantee, warranty or assurance of health care.
  • A contract for a newspaper subscription.

In Florida the doctrine of the Statute of Frauds is codified under Title XLI of the Florida Statutes and is available for viewing by the general public at the Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislature at the following link:  Title XLI, Statute of Frauds, Fraudulent Transfers, and General Assignments.

(Click each link below to be directed to the listed section of the Florida Statutes.)

The law firm of Murphy & Ellis, PLLC has many years of experience in contractual matters and agreements.  If you may require guidance on contracts, confidentiality agreements, dispute resolutions, document preparation or other transactions where it may be prudent to have a written agreement in place, contact Murphy & Ellis, PLLC today!


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