Verbal Agreements Australia

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Verbal Agreements in Australia: Understanding Your Rights and Obligations

In Australia, a verbal agreement is considered as binding as a written contract. While written contracts are always preferred, verbal agreements are common and are often relied upon in various situations. It is important, however, to know your rights and obligations when entering into a verbal agreement to avoid misunderstandings, disputes, or legal consequences.

What is a Verbal Agreement?

A verbal agreement is a type of contract that is made verbally between two or more people. It is also known as an oral agreement, handshake deal, or gentleman`s agreement. A verbal agreement can be formed in various situations, such as:

- Buying or selling goods or services

- Renting or leasing property

- Hiring employees or contractors

- Borrowing or lending money

- Making business deals or partnerships

- Settling disputes or negotiating terms

While there is no legal requirement for a verbal agreement to be formalized in writing, it is recommended to do so. A written contract provides clear evidence of the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties and helps avoid confusion or disputes.

Enforcing a Verbal Agreement

If a verbal agreement is made and both parties agree on the terms, it is considered legally binding and enforceable. However, enforcing a verbal agreement can be difficult, especially if there is a dispute or disagreement about the terms of the agreement. For instance, if one party denies that a verbal agreement was made or claims that the terms were different from what was agreed upon, there may be a legal battle to prove the validity of the agreement. This is why it is important to have a written contract, which acts as clear evidence of the agreement.

Terms of a Verbal Agreement

The terms of a verbal agreement should be clear and specific to avoid misunderstandings. It should include the following elements:

- Identification of the parties involved

- The subject matter of the agreement

- The agreed-upon terms, such as the price, quantity, quality, payment terms, delivery date, or the scope of work

- The duration or timeline of the agreement

- Any special conditions or obligations

It is also important to keep records of any communication related to the verbal agreement, such as emails, text messages, or phone calls, to create a paper trail if needed.

Limitations of Verbal Agreements

While verbal agreements are legally binding, they have some limitations. For instance:

- Verbal agreements may be difficult to prove in court if there is no evidence

- Verbal agreements may be subject to interpretation and may be unclear or ambiguous

- Verbal agreements may not be enforceable if they are contrary to law or public policy

- Verbal agreements may not be enforceable if they involve large sums of money or complex transactions

Therefore, it is always recommended to have a written contract, especially for important or complex agreements.


Verbal agreements are common in Australia and are legally binding. However, they have limitations and may be difficult to enforce if there is a dispute. To avoid misunderstandings or legal consequences, it is important to have a clear record of the terms and conditions of the agreement, and to consider having a written contract. Before entering into a verbal agreement, it is also advisable to seek legal advice to ensure that you understand your rights and obligations.

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