Verbal agreements

Is a verbal agreement binding? I agreed to paint a mural in a guy’s reception area. When I finished he refused to pay me what we had agreed. He denied our agreement, and said that even if there was an agreement it wasn’t binding because it wasn’t written. He then claimed that I had donated my time as a marketing exercise! I’m a struggling artist, and this job took me 3 days!    

With a few exceptions, South African law does recognise verbal agreements as being binding and enforceable. Although one of the main challenges with a verbal contract is proving the terms of the agreement. It sounds like you may have good grounds for an action against your customer – and the fact that you spent three days working on the mural, without any complaint from your customer, comprises good evidence. Any evidence you have that alludes to the amount that was agreed will also be useful. You may wish to pursue this with the help of an attorney. Alternatively you can look at approaching the Small Claims Court for assistance if your claim is less than R15,000.

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