I made an agreement with a friend to share a house while visiting the Massachusetts with said friend. Now we are both back in the UK and he is refusing to pay. Does the debt exist in a country or can an English court order him to pay?

The agreement was made while we were both in Massachusetts.

  • 1
    Can you clarified the you paid the rent in the expectation that he would repay you later? Mar 14, 2016 at 15:03
  • @MartinBonner I might be able to, I'm not sure I want to go to court with a "he said I said" situation though, thanks for your comment.
    – PStag
    Mar 14, 2016 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


The agreement was probably made and exists under US law, specifically the state in which you made the agreement. Enforcement can be sought in a UK court which will apply US law to it.

However, it is highly likely that your "agreement with a friend" is not a contract and will not be legally enforceable because it lacks one of the fundamental requirements of a contract: intention to create a legal relationship.

As detailed in What is a contract and what is required for them to be valid? one of the presumptions the court will make is that an agreement of a family, domestic, social or voluntary nature is not intended to legally bind the participants. You would need evidence to overcome that presumption: a document stating this and signed by both of you would be best. Without this, if you go to court you will probably lose. Sorry.

Either way it looks like you will lose the friendship.

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    I have not heard the term "social agreement". If the friend agreed (orally) that the OP should pay the rent, and then friend would repay him later, I think English and Welsh law would regard that as an enforce-able contract - but I agree, jurisdiction will almost certainly be that of the State in question. (Note that there is no such thing as "UK law" - Scottish law is very different) Mar 14, 2016 at 15:06
  • @MartinBonner I have expanded my answer to detail this more fully
    – Dale M
    Mar 15, 2016 at 0:33
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    Hmm. As so often, it will depend on the facts of the case. I think that if two friends of broadly similar means share a house, there is likely to be a presumption that they intend to share the costs. (This would not be the case for, eg, a restaurant meal.) Mar 15, 2016 at 6:15
  • @MartinBonner Hmm, show me some evidence please, if it's my name on the lease and I offer to share it with you do you automatically expect to split the rent?
    – Dale M
    Mar 15, 2016 at 7:03
  • As a layperson, I find it odd that a verbal agreement between friends to share expenses for something like accomodation to be assumed NOT to be legally binding (although it would be hard to prove). For people of ordinary means, such an expense is non-trivial (wheras a restuarant bill may not be).
    – Notso
    Mar 8 at 7:34

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