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VERBAL can be as binding as a written CONTRACT

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by mdvaden, Mar 12, 2007.

  1. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    One lawnsite user, AGLA, in another thread, mentioned verbal discussion between landscapers and customers - in regards to being binding.

    I thought it would make for a good topic.

    Its something that I wouldn't have expected until a few years ago.

    I was on the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board as a board member. There were 7 of us. One day, we needed to hear an appeal by somebody. Basically, a claim was filed against a landscaper. A judge dealt with the matter first, and ordered that the landscaper install bigger boulders.

    In the appeal, our job was to vote among ourselves to overturn the judges decision, or support it. (we ended up supporting it).

    What I learned from this, was that the WRITTEN contract specified boulders of a certain WEIGHT. But the discussion between the customer and landscape contractor also involved SPOKEN information about the SIZE.

    The judge determined that the contract was to involve the SIZE also.

    So, that was an interesting piece of information to learn. That was one of the fringe benefits of being a board member - you can learn a lot, without being on the receiving end of a claim or a fine :rolleyes:

    The license boards are like the small opening of the funnel. Everything, and every matter eventually seems to be discussed at one point or another.
  2. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    It sounds like the landscaper said they talked about the size, and they had a contract. SO, if I am right he was actually admitting what he said, and trying to use the contract as his written evdience. But if he had simply said that there was a written contract and there was no discussion about the size because it was in the written contract I think it would have been a different result.
  3. StBalor

    StBalor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 798

    Agreed. This only works when both parties tell the truth. If a lco takes a job at 1000.00 only on verbel agreement. then the customer only pays him 400.00,It goes to court and the client says we agreed on 400.00, who do you think the judge will side with? no proof of anything, besides the 400.00 check. Or if it's cash, he could say he does not even know the lco.
  4. NELawnCare

    NELawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 175

    I have a little legal experience and can chime in. A judge will take all evidence at face value. In most states, a verbal contract will not hold up over physical evidence. A check for $400 (although the incorrect amount) will be enough to sway a courts decision and discard the verbal contract, since there's no way to prove the verbal agreement took place.

    ALWAYS get things in writting!
  5. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    I believe that most landscapers would not lie in court, because of the possiblity that a friend, family member or recording could surface.

    More than likely, they would deny part of a verbal agreement because they honestly forgot.

    The landscapers here, who would lie to deny a verbal agreement, would be few and far between, because the risk is too high.

    I think that the getting changes in writing is a good idea too.

    Quite a few landscapers end up with problems by choosing the convenience to do changes without ammending the contract. Then its not convenient anymore.

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