Miami residents often have many misconceptions about the legal system. This is understandable, given that individuals may not encounter the legal system until they become involved in a lawsuit.
In the business world, these misconceptions can prove to have real consequences if Miami businesses have a certain understanding of the law that proves to be incorrect. For instance, in a contract dispute, the law is not always what individuals may assume. Most people would likely believe that there is no valid contract between parties unless it there is a written document signed by both sides. While this is frequently the manner of offer and acceptance that forms a contract, it is very often unnecessary to have a written contract in place in order for contractual obligations to be enforced.
Under Florida law, many oral contracts carry the same validity as written contracts. So long as the oral agreement satisfies the basic elements of a contract, such as offer, acceptance, consideration and specification of the essential terms of the deal, it may be enforceable.
Moreover, even without written or spoken words, a contract can still be created by the conduct of the parties. These types of contracts are implied by the parties’ conduct, as the conduct shows the parties intended to create a contract through their dealings.
As with other issues, there may be exceptions to both oral and implied contracts, such as with certain issues like real property transactions that typically must be in writing. However, the bottom line is that businesses should understand that a breach of contract claim does not necessarily require a written contract to be asserted. At the same time, the party asserting an oral or implied contract typically bears the burden of proving the existence of the contract, and the other side still has defenses available to avoid liability on the alleged breach of contract.
Source: Florida Supreme Court, “Florida Standard Jury Instructions — Contract and Business Cases,” accessed on Nov. 21, 2015