Handshake Agreements

by Elizabeth Burns; Updated September 26, 2017
A handshake agreement is informal.

A handshake agreement is also known as a verbal, or “gentleman’s agreement” and means an informal understanding reached between two parties. A handshake agreement can be made over business or personal matters. It is based on trust and relies on the honor and integrity of the parties involved.

Legal Rights

State and federal laws exist to enforce verbal agreements, which represent a contract between two parties. Anyone considering entering into an important verbal contract should seek legal advice.

Exchanges

A handshake agreement is not considered to be a legally binding contract unless a firm offer is made and accepted. Each party must give the other something of value, such as money or even a promise, to seal the agreement.

Disadvantges

Verbal agreements are difficult to prove or enforce if no witnesses are present when the agreement is made. If such cases are contested, it comes down to a case of one party’s word against the other.

About the Author

Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.

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