Question: Are verbal contracts a legal contract? Was buying a car from a friend, car title & registration left in friends name, insurance in my name, never late on a payment, friend sold car out from under me, I had put alot of money into the car. Is there anything I can do? The law officer that came when car was taken said I could file a civel law case, is this true?
Oral contracts may be enforced. The enforcement for a breach of an oral contract may be more difficult than enforcement for breach of a written contract. To prove breach of the oral contract, it ends up being one person’s word against another’s. Generally, the certificate of title is proof of ownership of a vehicle. However, if there is enough evidence to the contrary, ownership may become a question to be decided in a civil court case.
Under Arizona law, (A.R.S. § 28-101 (39)) "Owner" means 1) a person who holds the legal title of a vehicle, or 2) if there is an agreement to pay for the car over a period of time (a conditional sale) and with the immediate right of possession being with the buyer (the person making the payments), the buyer is considered the owner. The law also requires the seller of the car to provide certificate of title when the buyer takes possession of the car, whether the sale was a cash sale or a conditional sale. (A.R.S. §§ 28-2058, 2161) The buyer may be able to sue the seller in civil court for breach of contract to recover the payments that were made.
For claims up to $2500, the case must be filed in Small Claims Court within the Justice Court System. For claims up to $10,000, the case must be filed in the Justice Court as well but not under small claims. Forms and instructions may be found online at the Maricopa county Superior Court.
Under contract law, when a contract has been breached, the court may award attorneys’ fees to the party who has been injured by the breach (the buyer here). Cases for breach of an oral contract are very difficult and while it is not necessary, it may be a wise decision for the buyer to hire an attorney depending upon the amount of money that was lost because of the seller’s breach.
February 06, 2007