Before we dive into this subject, we want to stress the importance of coming to a mutual agreement whenever you’re doing work or having work done. Define the terms, understand the terms, read the terms, and sign on the dotted line.
With that said, we understand situations arise where two parties negotiate and come to terms, but fail to secure final signatures before work starts and, in some cases, before work is completed. We want you to understand what is likely to happen when this situation arises and what you can do about it.
The moment you realize a contract was never signed, it’s important to get all parties involved in the loop and make them aware of the error. Doing so allows everyone to start the process of correcting the error, and it will start the clock on all necessary actions to remedy any issues.
When you contact the other party, the situation may resolve itself quickly by simply resharing the contract, double-checking the details, and signing off on the deal.
Gather all documentation
After everyone is aware of the situation, you should look back at all communications about the agreement and make sure you have everything documented and secure. This becomes increasingly important should the involved parties fail to agree on what the final contract included.
What’s important to understand is that a signature is not required for a contract to be enforceable. Verbal contracts can be legally binding in Florida, but only if an agreement is reached and defined clearly within legal standards. This means if all involved parties received and reviewed the contract but failed to sign it, it’s likely still going to be enforceable.
Documentation will be important because if there are multiple versions of the contract, one or both parties may insist a version that favors them was the final agreement. Document everything and be sure to take note of dates when communication took place and the manner of that communication.
Stick to the original agreement
This occurred in the case of E-21 Engineering INC v. Steve Stock & Associates. A subcontract was agreed to but never signed, and one of the parties attempted to go back on the deal, noting the lack of a signature. A costly legal battle ensued, ending with the courts determining the contract remained enforceable despite the lack of a signature.
It’s important to define what the original agreement was and stick to your side of the deal. Any attempt to alter details of the agreement may be declined by the courts or could be viewed as an admittance that the entire contract is failable. This could mean your work or money goes to waste as an entirely new agreement would need to be drafted.
Contact your attorney
As with the E-21 case mentioned above, you could find yourself in court defending the agreement. Don’t go into this process without your attorney by your side.
At Florida Construction Law Group, we know Florida law and can defend your rights when these mistakes arise. Contact us right away and let us make this right for you.