Are oral contracts enforceable under Japanese law?

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Japanese contract law, like the contract law of many other countries, does not require documentation to formalize a contractual relationship. In other words, contracts can be formed orally, without putting anything in writing, as long as there is a valid “offer” by one party and an “acceptance” by the other. However, while formalized documentation of a contract is not necessary, it can be very difficult to prove the content of a contract in court unless it was put into a writing signed by both parties.

In determining whether a contractual relationship has been formed, often it is necessary to consider whether both parties really had the intent to enter into a contract. In situations where one party is concealing the truth or actively lying, the opposing party can claim that there was no valid intent to enter into the contract. Similarly, in situations where one or both parties are mistaken about underlying facts or if the contract is based on fraud or duress, the contract is void.

If you have any questions about contracting in Japan, please contact our office to set up a legal consultation.