In litigation, the opposing parties continue to ask the Judge to determine “what is the agreement of the parties?” In business and in personal dealings, many individuals believe that a handshake or oral promises suffice; they learn too late that this is not the case.

Individuals and companies need to have written agreements in place which clearly set forth the understanding of the parties. This Agreement needs to clearly set forth the written obligations of each of the parties, in other words, what each of the parties are to do and perform. This may mean that one party is to pay money and the other provides a service, or it could mean each of the parties are to exchange product or a combination of the two.

A business should protect itself by establishing some standard agreements, which should include an Employment Agreement, Supply Agreement, Purchase Order Agreement, Retainer Agreement and/or Sales Agreement. By doing so, this will help avoid problems in the future.

Individuals, whether they are close friends, relatives or strangers, should always make sure agreements are in writing. Agreements relating to work around the house, repairs, purchasing and selling assets, lending money and/or investing in a business needs to be in writing.

Writing an agreement will help avoid costly litigation and can include provisions which will avoid cost, expenses, disputes and liability. In some cases there are form contracts that can be used, which can be obtained from a stationary store, but I would urge that all such contracts be reviewed by an attorney. Remember, an initial consult from an attorney to review your needs should be at no charge.

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