Contracts: Statute of Frauds

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What is the Statute of Frauds and its purpose?

The Statute of Frauds requires that certain types of contracts be evidenced by a writing or by written memoranda of sufficient detail to describe the essential terms. The purpose of the Statute of Frauds is to prevent fraud or perjury.

What type of contracts fall within the Statute of Frauds?

Contracts for the sale of land, contracts for the sale of goods equal or greater than $500, marriage contracts, contracts not performed within one year, and surety contracts all fall within the Statute of Frauds.

Describe the general application of the Statute of Frauds to land.

Contracts for the sale of land must be in writing. This usually includes leases over one year. Full or part performance takes the contract out of the statute. This requires possession of the land and making valuable improvements to the land.

Describe the application of the Statute of Frauds under the UCC.

See UCC 2-201.All contracts for the sale of goods at or above $500 must be in writing. This requirement is excused by:acceptance of the goodspart paymentmanufacture of unique goodsmemorandum between merchants admissions in judicial context

Describe the application of the Statute of Frauds to marriage.

Marriage contracts and pre-nuptial agreements need to be in writing, but the promise to marry does not.

Describe the application of the Statute of Frauds for contracts that cannot be performed within one year.

Contracts that cannot be performed within one year need to be in writing. Any possibility of performance, no matter how unlikely, will take the contract out of the statute requirements. The one year is measured from the date of formation not from the date of beginning performance.

Describe the application of the Statute of Frauds to surety contracts.

Promises made directly to a creditor to answer for the debt of another must be in writing. The promise must regard a contract that existed prior to the surety's promise.

What is the 'main purpose rule'?

If the promisor's main purpose in acting as a surety is to secure a benefit to himself, either personal or pecuniary, the promise is taken out of the statute.

How are lifetime contracts interpreted under the Statute of Frauds regarding contracts that cannot be performed within one year?

Lifetime contracts do not fall within the Statute of Frauds requirements as there is always the slightest chance that someone will die within the year. A minority of states require these type of contracts to be in writing.

What is the writing requirement of the Statute of Frauds?

Any signed agreement, not including cancellation notices, memos, letters , telegrams, or even a combination of all of the above, must state:C. considerationI. identity of partiesS. subject matterT. terms and conditionsS. signature

How is the writing requirement enforced under the Statute of Frauds?

Contracts are enforced against signing parties only. A signature is defined as a name, initials, or even a company name or logo, and can be handwritten, typed, or printed. It includes the signatures of authorized agents.

What is the meaning of 'equal dignity' under the Statute of Frauds?

Some states require that an authorized agent's agreement be in writing, but this is a minority rule.

What is the legal effect of a contract within the Statute of Frauds?

Contracts within the Statute, i.e. those that are required to be in writing but are not, are voidable.The minority view holds such contracts as void.

Who may raise the Statute of Frauds as a defense?

The Statute of Frauds may be asserted as a defense only by parties to the contract.

How is reliance interpreted under a contract within the Statute of Frauds?

Under the common law, reliance is not grounds for enforcing a contract within the statute unless the reliance resulted in conferring a benefit.

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