Does Massachusetts law require contracts between businesses to be in writing?

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My business is being sued for a debt from a production company in Waltham who provided services and was only paid about 20% of the debt. We never got our film footage and there was no contract.   Does Mass law require contracts between businesses to be in writing? Our company cannot pay it now yet it could within the year and they would have been paid. Now the time we are wasting for the same end result makes me want to lower this as much as possible.   What can we do?


To answer your question about whether Massachusetts requires certain contracts to be in writing, the answer is it depends upon the type of contract. The Massachusetts version of the statute of frauds (i.e. M.G.L. c. 259 §1) provides that certain types of contracts must be in writing. For example, a contract for the sale of real estate must be in writing.  The subject contract does not appear to be a contract that is required to be in writing unless it was “an agreement  that is not to be performed within one year from the making thereof”. As this contract was not in writing, however, your company and the production company may have some real disagreements over what the “terms of the deal” were.  You have a couple of option on how to proceed at this point. You could either: (1) defend the case and possibly bring counterclaims (i.e. for the production companies non-performance), (2) you could try to reach a settlement agreement and payment plan over time, or (3) you could try to mediate and/or arbitrate the case.

In determining which option to attempt to pursue, you need to evaluate the viability of your defenses. Did you not pay the debt because you did not have the money or did you not pay the debt because the production companies service was poor, the service was not timely, or the service was more than the agreed upon price, etc.? Even if you have a valid defense, you also need to factor in the cost to defend.

A payment plan over time seems like it might be the best solution. You should make sure, however, that the terms of the settlement agreement are in writing and that you receive the product at the end of the day and that you have provisions to insure that the product is a quality product. Good luck.

The Waltham Contract Dispute Attorneys at Goldman & Pease provide legal representation for contract disputes and all business related matters in Waltham, Massachusetts and the surrounding communities including Needham, Newton, Brookline, Dedham, Westwood, Dover,  Wellesley, Weston  and the entire Boston Metrowest region.

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