Is Your Written Contract Enforceable? Maybe Not!

Always Get It in Writing.

I am fond of saying “always get it in writing!”

What is “it?” Anything on which you intend to rely, including some thing as simple as a coffee date. An exchange of emails or text messages dramatically improves the likelihood that you and the other person will show up at the right place, on the right date and time.

As the risk and cost of “it” increases, so does the need to have a written contract signed by both parties.

Is a Written Contract Always Enforceable?

Short answer: No.

For any contract to be enforceable, it has to be one for lawful subject matter.

Examples of Unlawful Subject Matter.

  • Unlike most of the states nearby, Idaho has not legalized the recreational use of marijuana.  A contract to buy and sell marijuana would not be enforced by the Idaho courts in the event one of the parties breached the agreement.
  • California courts will enforce the marijuana contract, but will not enforce most non-compete contracts.
  • A contract in which you agree to pay someone to make copies of copyrighted images without paying the copyright owner would also be unenforceable. The essence of the contract is illegal.
  • Many of the form contracts you find on the Internet require you to pay a fee for the use of that form.  Failure to pay the fee might put you in the position of being unable to enforce a contract that contains otherwise unobjectionable subject matter, such as the purchase of building materials.


It is essential have a written agreement for anything on which you intend to rely.  That’s the easy part.

It can be surprisingly complicated to ensure the contract will be enforceable in your home state.  Please consult with a savvy business lawyer who is licensed to practice the law of your locale!

Thank you!

Michael Oswald

Please note: the above post contains educational information. It is not intended as legal advice. Engage an attorney who is licensed in your state to get advice on dealing with any specific legal issue.

© 2020 Michael S. Oswald

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