re: Poker & 2006 ME Event Winner Getting Sued for 50% of winnings
this might help
One of the most complicated problems that attorneys in contract law deal with is the verbal contract. Movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn is reported to have once said, "Verbal contracts aren't worth the paper they're printed on." Although they are notoriously difficult to regulate, state and federal laws regarding verbal contracts do exist, and can help to ensure the enforcement of a verbal contract.
While all important contracts should be obtained in writing (and preferable with legal consultation) verbal contracts are a convenient and commonly used form of agreement between two parties. For example, a verbal contract between two neighbors can divide their property, roommates may use a verbal contract to determine the amount of rent due from each party, and employers often use verbal contracts to arrange raises or bonuses for their employees. The main problem with a verbal contract is that if any problems should arise, and there are no witnesses who were present when the verbal contract was made, the case is reduced to one party's word against the others.
• Offer: In order to be considered valid, a verbal contract must contain three elements: offer, acceptance, and consideration. The person making the offer in a verbal contract must communicate their intent to enter into a contract. This offer does not extend indefinitely, and a verbal contract is not considered valid if the offeror cancels the offer, the offeree rejects the offer, or a reasonable amount of time has passed. For instance, if a person offers an item for sale at a set price, the neighbor can not hold him to a verbal contract for the same item at the same price several years later.
• Acceptance: A verbal contract is not valid until the offer is accepted. The acceptance of a verbal contract occurs when the offeree voluntarily indicates agreement to the terms and conditions of the offer.
• Consideration: In addition to an offer and acceptance, verbal contracts must contain consideration. This means that each side must give the other something of value for the agreement to be binding. In most verbal contracts, this is an exchange of money, such as a down payment. However, in some cases, such as an employment situation, mutual promises will do. For instance, a job candidate will agree to turn down other offers and the future employer will promise a position in their company.
Even with these stipulations, verbal contracts can cause an enormous number of problems if unfulfilled or contested. For this reason, verbal contracts in many states are not considered valid if they involve goods or services over a certain dollar value. Before entering into a verbal contract, be certain that it will be considered legally binding under state laws. In almost every case, a verbal contract should be followed by an agreement in writing, dated and signed by both parties.
Disputes between two parties regarding a verbal contract into which both have entered are settled in a small claims court, where the persons allegedly holding a verbal contract represent themselves without attorneys. If the parties agree to it, the verbal contract may be settled through arbitration. In any case, getting the advice of an attorney about a verbal contract is never a bad idea.