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If a person made a promise to do or not to do something, and I'm telling the person that I'm audio recording his verbal promise (because I wanted to use this as evidence in court in case that person fails to acknowledge his promise, but I did not tell the person explicitly), is this legal in the US? In addition, can this audio recording be admitted as evidence in court?

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    You should recognize that a promise by itself is not legally binding. A promise as part of a contact may be. If I lie and tell you "I'll give you $1000 next Monday" you have no recourse when I don't.
    – Tiger Guy
    Mar 17 at 4:16
  • @TigerGuy If we both signed a written document saying you will give me $1,000 next Monday, with no compensation for it, that would not be legally binding either. At least that is my naive understanding.
    – Evorlor
    Mar 21 at 3:24
  • @Evorlor that is correct
    – Tiger Guy
    Mar 21 at 6:31
  • @TigerGuy Why is Evorlor correct? Mar 21 at 7:16
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    @HelloDarkWorld a valid contract must have a consideration, meaning both parties must get something from it.
    – Tiger Guy
    Mar 21 at 12:55

2 Answers 2

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I'm telling the person that I'm audio recording his verbal promise . . . is this legal in the US?

Yes. Obviously so. Why wouldn't it be?

can this audio recording be admitted as evidence in court?

Generally yes.

Certain kinds of promises are only legally valid if made in a signed writing, however. A requirement that a certain kind of promise be made in a signed writing is called a "statute of frauds."

A recorded verbal promise generally does not overcome the requirement that a promise be in a signed writing to overcome the statute of frauds, although if someone makes a recorded verbal promise and denies doing so, this could support an action for fraud and might make proving a promissory estoppel case easier.

Also, something called the "parole evidence rule" makes a verbal statement made prior to signing a written contract inadmissible for the purpose of varying the terms of the signed contract.

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  • Do I have to have another's consent before recording his or her audio recording? If not, is it still admissible in court? Mar 16 at 18:49
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    @HelloDarkWorld - Your question says you told them which means that they consented to the recording. If you are recording secretly, that is a different question Mar 16 at 22:45
  • @JustinCave But what if I told them I'm recording them, but they never said they consented or not, is that legal and be admitted as evidence? Mar 17 at 0:59
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    @HelloDarkWorld - If you tell them that you are recording them and they continue negotiating the contract, they have given you consent to record. Mar 17 at 4:45
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If you tell them you are recording, and they keep talking, they have consented to the recording

This means that, in places which require the consent of both parties to record a conversation (which is not all places), you are not breaking any laws.

Whether they are admissible in court depends on the specific rules of evidence. First, the recording has to be relevant to the case. Beyond that, some jurisdictions will treat audio recordings as “documents” and others don’t; documents have different rules.

However, that all begs the question: promises are not legally enforceable unless they are consideration for a binding contract. I can promise, for example, not to see your sister, but if I then bang her every day and twice on Sundays, there’s nothing you can do.

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    your example works even with consideration, in case you are blindfolded.
    – Trish
    Mar 18 at 2:26
  • Is there a difference between admissible in court vs. legally enforceable? Mar 18 at 4:28
  • @HelloDarkWorld if you are trying to prove a non-enforceable promise exists then there is no case and, incidentally, the evidence of such a promise is irrelevant, and therefore inadmissible.
    – Dale M
    Mar 18 at 8:40

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