As an Atlanta property lawyer that regularly handles proceedings dealing with Georgia business, real estate, construction, property, and contract matters, it is imperative that I know when a Georgia contract must be in writing to be legally enforceable. Being an attorney who does not cut corners and can be stubborn about achieving perfection, my quick answer is that every contract must be in writing. However, this is not true. Many contracts are not in writing. This is especially true for Georgia contract disputes and litigation, which in one way or another; end up on my desk to correct. In short, failure to memorialize your contractual agreement causes a plethora of problems, so please put everything in writing.

This is even true if you write your contractual agreement on a napkin from the restaurant, while having lunch with the contracting parties, with the waiter’s pen. The written contract should be a detailed written agreement that is signed, witnessed, and understood by all parties of the contract. Do not sign a contract you do not understand. This is because your signature on a contract affirms that you read, understood the contract fully, and agreed to it. The contract must contain and cover all material terms of the subject matter contract.

Now, the truth be known, the above-referenced scenario, while not a bad idea, is really me making a vain attempt to prevent future problems that could arise stem from uncertainties that often arise from oral contracts, and which are oftentimes prevented by written contract – even if it is on a restaurant napkin. Now it is time for the truth. I must admit I am purposefully wrong to prove a point. Georgia law holds that only certain Georgia contracts must be in writing. I still want to get one last word in that a contract on a restaurant napkin is abundantly better than an oral agreement.

In my Atlanta based property and Georgia real estate transaction and property dispute and litigation law firm, I know that contracts must legally only be in writing when they are subject to the Statute of Frauds. O.C.G.A. § 13-5-31 states that the following contracts do not have to be in writing to be legally enforceable. In short, they are not subject to the Statute of Frauds, which requires them to be in writing.

Conversely, it follows that contracts must be in writing when they are subject to the Statute of Frauds. In my Atlanta property dispute and litigation law firm, I know the exceptions to the Statute of Frauds. To be clear, contracts that must be in writing must meet the requirement that they be in writing because the Statute of Frauds dictates so.

Under O.C.G.A. § 13-5-31, the following types of cases are do not have to be in writing and thus one could say, they are not subject to the Statute of Frauds to be enforceable.

They are as follows:

• There has been performance concerning the contract terms by a party to the contract, and another party to the contract has accepted this performance. This indicates there is a contract, thus Georgia law states there is.

• Where there has been such part performance of the contract as would render it a fraud of the party refusing to comply if the court did not compel a performance.

• The contract has been fully performed. Since the contract has begun and finished, there is no reason to back up in time and require this contractual agreement be in writing.

As such, any oral contract is valid and legal enforceable so long as it complies with one of the above exceptions to the Statute of Frauds.

The binding authority that set forth and solidified the Statute of Frauds can be found in the case of Atlantis Realty Co., Inc. v. Morris, 142 Ga. App. 470, 236 S.E.2d 163, (Ga. Ct. App. 1977).

The lesson of this Blog Article? While it is possibly not evident, is that parties should always take the time to make a contract. Even more so, that certain contracts need not be in writing to be legally enforceable. However, if you are party to a contract, please take the time to put it in writing. If you feel a contract is pending, please take the necessary steps to have this contract put in writing. Truth be known, putting the contract in writing is only half the battle. If you are engaging in business with another party, please retain an experienced Atlanta, Georgia contract attorney to draft your contracts and make them binding on all parties. Additionally, by having your attorney draft the contracts, you can make sure your best interest are protected and promoted. I stated earlier that much litigation is generated from disputes over oral contracts. Well, there is a whole other sector that deals with Georgia contract disputes over poorly, ambiguously, or improperly drafted Georgia contracts. While a contract is just an agreement, in this business environment, a “handshake will not do anymore.” It is sad, but true.

The Attorneys at The Libby Law Firm are exceptional at drafting and memorializing agreements between parties. It is well worth the time to Contact Us and come in for a consultation to make sure your business interests and efforts are not destroyed by not having a contract, or having an improperly drafter contract. Please do not hesitate to Contact Us. We would be glad to hear from you.


To learn more about how the Atlanta business contract attorneys at The Libby Law Firm can assist you in memorializing your business dealings into contract form; please do not hesitate to Contact Us. You work to hard to have your efforts and best interests destroyed by having no contract or poorly drafted ones.
The Libby Law Firm
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