Learning Objectives

understand which contract are forced to be evidenced by some composing to it is in enforceable. Recognize the exception to that requirement. Acknowledge what the writing need means. Recognize the effect of noncompliance with the state of Frauds.

Overview the the state of Frauds

The general ascendancy is this: a contract require not be in composing to it is in enforceable. An oral agreement to pay a high-fashion model $2 million come pose because that photographs is as binding together if the language of the deal were printed on vellum and signed in the existence of twenty bishops. For three centuries, however, a large exception grew up about the state of Frauds, an initial enacted in England in 1677 under the formal name “An Act because that the prevention of Frauds and also Perjuries.” The statute of FraudsA dominion requiring that specific contracts be evidenced by a writing, signed through the party to be bound, to it is in enforceable. Calls for that some contracts be evidenced by a writing, signed by the party to it is in bound. The English statute’s 2 sections dealing with contracts review as follows:

…no action shall be brought

by which to charge any kind of executor or administrator upon any kind of special promise, come answer damages out the his own estate; or whereby to charge the defendant upon any type of special promise to answer because that the debt, default or miscarriages of an additional person; or come charge any kind of person upon any type of agreement make upon factor to consider of marriage; or upon any type of contract or revenue of lands, tenements or hereditaments, or any kind of interest in or worrying them; or upon any kind of agreement the is not to it is in performed within the room of one year indigenous the make thereof;

unless the commitment upon which such action shall it is in brought, or some memorandum or keep in mind thereof, shall it is in in writing, and also signed by the party to be fee therewith, or part other human being thereunto by that lawfully authorized.

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…no contract for the sale of any kind of goods, wares and merchandizes, because that the price of ten pounds sterling or upwards, candlestick be allowed to it is in good, other than the buyer shall accept component of the goods so sold, and also actually get the same, or provide something in earnest to tie the bargain or in part of payment, or that some note or memorandum in writing of the claimed bargain be made and also signed by the parties to be charged by such contract, or your agents thereunto legit authorized.

As may be obvious from the location of the act and its language, the general purpose the the legislation is to carry out evidence, in areas of part complexity and also importance, that a contract was in reality made. To a lesser degree, the legislation serves to fist those around to get in a contract and also “to create a climate in i m sorry parties often regard their agreements together tentative until there is a signed writing.”Restatement (Second) of Contracts, thing 5, statutory note. Notice, that course, the this is a statute; it is a legislature intrusion into the common law the contracts. The name of the plot is somewhat unfortunate: insofar together it deals with fraud in ~ all, the does not resolve fraud as we usually think of it. It tries to avoid the fraud that occurs when one human being attempts to impose on one more a contract that never was i agree to.

The state of Frauds has been enacted in form similar to the seventeenth-century plot in every state however Maryland and new Mexico, wherein judicial decisions have offered it legitimate effect, and Louisiana. Through minor exceptions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, phibìc Carolina, and Pennsylvania, the legislations all take on the very same categories of contracts the are required to be in writing. Beforehand in the twenty century, section 17 was replaced by a ar of the Uniform Sales Act, and this in turn has now been changed by provisions in the Uniform Commercial password (UCC).

Figure 13.1 Contracts forced to it is in in Writing


However ancient, the statute of Frauds is alive and also well in the unified States. Now it is offered as a technical defense in countless contract actions, regularly with unfair results: it deserve to be used by a human to wriggle the end of an otherwise perfect fine dental contract (it is claimed then to be provided “as a sword instead of a shield”). Consequently, courts translate the regulation strictly and also over the years have enunciated a hold of exceptions—making what appears to be simple quite complex. Indeed, after more than fifty percent a century of serious academic criticism, the British conference repealed most of the statute in 1954. As beforehand as 1885, a brother judge detailed that “in the vast bulk of instances procedure is just to allow a guy to break a promise v impunity since he walk not write it under with adequate formality.” A proponent that the repeal stated on the floor of the home of Commons that “future students of law will, i hope, have actually their labours lightened through the passage of this measure.” In the joined States, students have actually no together reprieve indigenous the state of Frauds, to which we now turn for examination.

Promises to pay the blame of Another

The rule: a promise to pay the blame of one more person have to be evidenced by some creating if it is a “collateral promiseA promise ancillary to an initial promise, not created the advantage of the party make it, that have to be in writing to be enforceable. That suretyship (or ‘guaranty’).” A collateral promise is one secondary or ancillary to some various other promise. A suretyOne who guarantees to action or pay upon the default of another: a guarantor. Or guarantorOne who promises to pay or perform a contract duty upon the default of another; a surety. (the state are essentially synonymous) is one who assures to do upon the default of another. Think about this:

A and also B agree to salary C.

Here, both A and also B room making a straight promise to salary C. Although A is noted first, both are promising to salary C. Now think about this:

B agrees to pay C if A does not.

Here it is clear the there have to be another agreement somewhere because that A to pay C, however that is not contained in this promise. Rather, B is make an agreement with C that is collateral—on the side—to the promise A is making come C. Sometimes the other commitment somewhere for A to salary C is actually in the same file as B’s promise to pay C if A does not. The does not make B’s promise a direct promise as opposed to a collateral one.

Suppose Lydia wishes to acquisition on credit transaction a coat at miss Juliette’s fine Furs. Juliette thinks Lydia’s creditworthiness is somewhat shaky. Therefore Lydia’s friend Jessica promises miss out on Juliette’s the if the keep will extend Lydia credit, Jessica will pay everything balance is due should Lydia default. Jessica is a surety for Lydia, and also the agreement is topic to the state of Frauds; an dental promise will not be enforceable.Of course, if Jessica yes, really did orally promise miss out on Juliette’s to salary in case Lydia didn’t, it would be poor faith come lie about it. The proper course for Jessica is not to say, “Ha, ha, i promised, yet it was only oral, for this reason I’m not bound.” Jessica have to say, “I progressive the state of Frauds together a defense.” mean Jessica very much desires Lydia to have actually the coat, so she phone call the store and says, “Send Lydia the fur, and also I will certainly pay for it.” This agreement does not develop a suretyship, since Jessica is primarily liable: she is do a direct promise to pay. To fall within the state of Frauds, the surety must ago the debt of an additional person to a third-party promisee (also well-known as the obligee the the primary debtor). The “debt,” incidentally, need not be a money obligation; it can be any type of contractual duty. If Lydia had actually promised to job-related as a cashier on Saturdays at miss out on Juliette’s in return because that the coat, Jessica could become surety come that obligation by agreeing to occupational in Lydia’s place if she failed to display up. Together a promise would must be in writing to be enforceable.

The exception: the main purpose doctrineA promise to salary the debt of another need no be in writing to be enforceable if the promisor was urged by a desire for advantage or benefit.. The key purpose theory is a major exception to the surety supplication of the state of Frauds. The holds the if the promisor’s primary reason for acting as surety is to secure her own financial advantage, then the commitment is not bound by the statute of Frauds creating requirement. Suppose, in the previous example, that Jessica is really the one who wants the hair coat however cannot, for factors of prudence, let that be well-known that she has actually bought one. Therefore she proposes that Lydia “buy” it for her and that she will certainly guarantee Lydia’s payments. Since the main purpose of Jessica’s promise is to advance her very own interests, one oral commitment is binding. Normally, the key purpose preeminence comes right into play as soon as the surety desires a financial benefit to herself that cannot happen unless she offers some security. For example, the board chairman that a little company, who likewise owns every the voting stock, might guarantee a press that if his firm defaulted in paying the invoice for desperately necessary catalogs, he would personally pay the bill. If his key purpose in offering the guarantee was to get the catalogues printed in order to stave turn off bankruptcy, and thus to maintain his own interest in the company, he would certainly be tied by an dental agreement.Stuart Studio, Inc. V. National School of hefty Equipment, Inc., 214 S.E.2d 192 (N.C. 1975). The very same principle deserve to be provided to bind other creditors to oral agreements, as the bank discovered in ar 13.4.1 "The state of Frauds’ key Purpose Doctrine" (Wilson Floors).

Agreements of Executor or Administrator

The rule: the promise by an executor or administrator of one estate to answer personally for the blame or various other duty the the deceased is analogous to the surety provision—it have to be evidenced by some composing if it is to be implemented over an objection by the would-be obligor. Because that an covenant to be extended by the statute, over there must have actually been an obligation prior to the decedent’s death. For this reason if the executor arranges for a funeral and guarantees payment should the estate fail to pay the fee, an dental contract is binding, since there was no preexisting obligation. If, however, the decedent has made his very own arrangements and also signed a note obligating his estate to pay, the executor’s promise to insurance payment would be binding just if written.

The exception: the key purpose exception to the surety provision uses to this section of the statute of Frauds and to the “promises to salary the debts of another” section, detailed earlier.

The marriage Provision

The rule: if any part of the marriage or the promise to marry consists also of a promise come exchange some consideration, the statute of Frauds needs that part to be confirmed by part writing.Restatement (Second) that Contracts, section 125. Shared promises come marry room not in ~ the rule. John and also Sally exchange assures to marry; the promise would not be unenforceable for failure to be confirmed by part writing. (Of course courts are an extremely unlikely to pressure anybody to save a promise to marry; the suggest is, the state of Frauds doesn’t apply). But if Sally understands man to say, “If girlfriend marry me, I will deed come you my building in the Catskill Mountains,” the component about the home would should be confirmed by some creating to be enforced over John’s denial. The state of Frauds governs such promises regardless that who provides them. Mean John’s father had said, “If friend marry Sally and also settle down, ns will give you $1 million,” and John agrees and marries Sally. The father’s promise is not enforceable uneven written, if he denies it.

Sometimes couples—especially rich people like movie stars—execute written residential property settlement agreements to meet the statute, stipulating exactly how their assets will be treated upon marital relationship or top top divorce or death. If done prior to marriage, they are dubbed prenuptial (premarital) agreementsA premarital agreement between parties concerning department or property of your property.; if ~ marriage, postnuptial (after marriage) agreementsAn agreement after marriage between spouses concerning department or ownership of your property. (“prenupts” and also “postnupts” in lawyer lingo).

The exception: over there is no “named” exception here, however courts are totally free to do equitable adjustments of home of the marriage to prevent an injustice.

The factors to be thought about in the division of the marital legacy are set forth in ~ , which states, inter alia , the the court chandelier finally and also equitably apportion the building of the parties, however and whenever acquired. The statute vests broad discretion in the district court. . The court is free to take on any reasonable valuation that marital home which is supported by the record.In re marital relationship of Rada, 402, 869 P.2d 254 (Mont. 1994).

Contracts affect an interest in actual Estate

The rule: nearly all contracts entailing an attention in actual estate space subject come the state of Frauds. “An interest in land” is a vast description, consisting of the sale, mortgaging, and also leasing that real home (including homes and also buildings); profits from the land; the creation of easements; and the facility of various other interests v restrictive covenants and agreements worrying use. Short-lived leases, generally for a ax of one year or less, are exempt from the provision.

The exception: the part performance doctrineEquitable exemption to statute of Frauds dispensing v writing requirement when one party carry out his or her component of the contract.. The name below is a misnomer, since it is a doctrine of reliance, and also the plot taken in dependency on the contract room not have to partial performances under it. As in every such cases, the reason is the it is unjust no to provide the promisee particular performance if he or she action in reasonable dependence on the contract and also the promisor has continued to manifest assent to its terms. An dental contract to offer land is no binding simply because the buyer has paid the acquisition price; payment is no by chin reliance, and also if the seller refuses to transport title, the buyer may recover the purchase price. However, if the buyer has actually taken possession and made enhancements on the property, court will normally say the instance is the end of the statute, and also the party claiming an oral contract can attempt come prove the presence of the oral contract.

The One-Year Rule

The rule: any type of agreement that cannot be performed within one year native its making need to be evidenced by some creating to be enforceable. The objective of this part is perhaps much more obvious than many of the statute’s provisions: memory fade concerning the state of dental contracts made long ago; world die; problems are not uncommon. Notice the critical time framework is not how long it will take to execute the contract, but how long from the time it is made till performance is complete. If a contract is make on January 1 for a residence to be constructed starting on June 1 and also to be perfect on February 1 of the next year, the performance will be perfect in eight months from the time it was begun, yet thirteen months from the time the contract was made. It drops within the statute.

The exception: the opportunity testException to state of Frauds’ one-year rule: if at its making, a contract could have been performed in one year, no writing is required.. The statute’s one-year dominance has been universally understood to average a contract the is difficult to be completely performed within one year; if over there is also the slightest opportunity of moving out the agreement fully within the year, an oral contract is enforceable. Therefore an oral commitment to salary a sum of money on a date thirteen months for this reason is in ~ the statute and not enforceable, however one calling because that payment “within thirteen months” would be enforceable, since it is feasible under the latter contract to pay in less than a year. Because in many instances strict applications of the statute would certainly dictate harsh results, the courts regularly strain because that an translate that finds it feasible to perform the covenant within the year. Courts will also hold that because any kind of person might die in ~ the year, a contract without a fixed term might be fully performed in under a year and does not, therefore, fall within the statute.

Under the UCC

The rule: contracts because that the sale of items in one amount better than $500 must be confirmed by some writing to be enforceable. Section 2-201 of the UCC calls for all contracts for the revenue of items for the price that $500 or much more to be in writing, yet oral agreements for the revenue of products valued at much less than $500 are completely enforceable without exception.

Other creating Requirements

In enhancement to this requirements, the UCC offers that agreements because that the sale of securities (e.g., many stocks and bonds) usually need to be shown by a writing, and also agreements for building not had in the sales or securities articles of the UCC the exceed $5,000 in value must be for this reason evidenced.Uniform advertising Code, part 8-319 and 1-206. Had here would certainly be intangible property such as rights to royalties and also to mortgage payments, and other rights developed by contract. And also in countless states, other statutes need a creating for several different kinds that contracts. These encompass agreements to pay commissions to genuine estate brokers, to do a will, to salary debts already discharged in bankruptcy, come arbitrate quite than litigate, to do loans, and to do installment contracts.

Exceptions under the UCC

There are four exceptions to the UCC’s statute of Frauds requirement that are appropriate here.

The Ten-Day-Reply Doctrine

This provides that, as between merchants, if an oral commitment is reached and also one party sends out the other a composed statement confirming it, the various other party has ten work to object in creating or the covenant is enforceable.Uniform commercial Code, ar 2-201(2).

“Specially produced Goods”

This exception provides that a seller who has manufactured goods to the buyer’s specifications or who has actually made “either a substantial beginning of their manufacture or commitments for their procurement” will certainly not be grounding if the the person who lives repudiates, assuming that the products are unsuitable because that sale to others.Uniform advertising Code, section 2-201(3)(a).

The “Admission” Exception

This exception arises—reasonably enough—when the party against whom enforcement is search admits in testimony or legal documents that a contract to be in reality made.Uniform advertising Code, section 2-201(3)(b). However, the admission will certainly not allow enforcement of all asserted terms that the contract; enforcement is restricted to the quantity of goods admitted.

The “Payment or Delivery and also Acceptance” Exception

The UCC gives that an dental contract for products in overfill of $500 will be upheld if payment has currently been made and accepted, or if the items have been received and accepted.Uniform commercial Code, section 2-20l(3)(c).

At common Law

We have actually been mindful not come say “the contract needs to it is in in writing.” We have actually said, “a contractual intention should be evidenced by some writing, signed by the party to it is in bound.” A signed contract is not required. What is required in many states, complying with the wording the the initial statute, is the there be at the very least some memorandum or note worrying the agreement—a logical repercussion of the statute’s function to proof the making of the contract. The words need not show up in a formal document; lock are adequate in any kind in a will, or on a inspect or receipt, or in longhand on the earlier of an envelope—so long as the document is signed by the party come be fee (i.e., the party being sue on the contract).

Although the writing require not contain every term, it should recite the subject issue of the contract. It require not carry out so, however, in state comprehensible come those that were not party to the negotiations; that is enough if the is understandable in context. A written commitment to to buy a parcel of land is typically sufficiently definitive if it describes the parcel in together a method that it might be mistaken for no other—for example, “seller’s floor in Tuscaloosa,” assuming that the seller owned only one package there. Beyond the topic matter, the essential terms of guarantees to be performed need to be written out; every details need not be. If vital term is missing, it cannot be enforced, unless it have the right to be inferred or imposed by ascendancy of law. A composed contract because that the sale of floor containing every term yet the time for payment, i m sorry the parties orally agreed would certainly be upon delivery of the deed, is sufficient. (A contract that omitted the offering price would not be.)

The parties need to be named in the writing in a manner enough to recognize them. Their whole names require not be offered if initials or some various other reference renders it unpreventable that the creating does issue the yes, really parties. Reference to the agent of a party identifies the party. Possession that the writing may also be sufficient: if a seller offers a memorandum of one oral commitment for the revenue of his land, stating every the terms, to the buyer, the latter may seek particular performance also though the writing omits to name or explain him or his agent.Restatement (Second) of Contracts, section 207(f).

In a couple of states, consideration for the promise should be declared in writing, also if the factor to consider has already been given. Consequently, created contracts commonly contain such language as “for worth received.” but in most states, failure to describe consideration currently given is unnecessary: “the prevailing check out is that error or omission in the recital the past events does not impact the sufficiency that a memorandum.”Restatement (Second) that Contracts, ar 207(h). The case is different, however, once the consideration is a return promise yet to be performed. Typically the return promise is an essential term of the agreement, and failure to state it will certainly vitiate the writing.

Under the UCC

In contracts because that the revenue of goods, the writing need to be signed by the party to be charged, and the parties need to be sufficiently identified.Uniform advertising Code, section 2-210(1). However consideration, including the offering price, need not be collection forth because that the memorandum to fulfill the requirements of the UCC (“a writing is no insufficient since it omits or incorrectly states a term agreed upon”), though obviously it provides sense to do so anytime possible. By contrast, UCC sections 1-206 and also 3-319 worrying intangible an individual property and investment securities require “a defined or proclaimed price.”

Electronic Communications

One of the major purposes the the digital Signatures in global and National business Act, S. 761, popularly described as ESign, is to repeal state regulation requirements because that written tools as they apply to digital agreements and also to make practically anything fairly indicative the a signature great enough electronically.Electronic Signatures in worldwide and National business Act, 15 U.S.C. § 96, 106th conference (2000). It offers the following:

Notwithstanding any type of statute, regulation, or other dominance of regulation , v respect to any type of transactions in or affecting federal government or foreign commerce—

a signature, contract, or other record relating to together transaction might not be refuse legal effect, validity or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form; and a contract relating to such transaction may not be refuse legal effect, validity or enforceability solely since an digital signature or digital record was supplied in that is formation.…

The ax “transaction” means an activity or collection of plot relating come the conduct of a business, customer or advertisement affairs in between two or much more persons, including any kind of of the following species of conduct—

the sale, lease, exchange, or various other disposition the the sale, lease, exchange or other disposition of any type of interest in actual property, or any combination thereof.

The hatchet “electronic signature” method an digital sound, symbol, or process, attached come or logically associated with a contract or other record and also executed or adopted by a human being with the will to sign the record.

Effect the Noncompliance and Exceptions; dental Rescission

The straightforward rule is that contracts administrate by the statute of Frauds space unenforceable if they room not sufficiently created down. If the agreement consists of several promises, the unenforceability that one will generally render the rather unenforceable also.

The state of Frauds deserve to work injustices. In addition to the exceptions currently noted, there space some general exceptions.

Full Performance

First, certainly, if the contract has actually been performed totally by both sides, the unenforceability under the state is moot. Having actually fulfilled its role (neither side having actually repudiated the contract), the commitment cannot it is in rescinded on the ground the it should have been, yet was not, decreased to writing.

Detrimental Reliance

Second, part relief may be granted to one who has relied ~ above an dental contract come her detriment (similar to the component performance doctrine stated already). Because that a partially performed contract unenforceable under the state of Frauds, restitution may be available. Mean George agrees orally to landscape Arthur’s fifteen acres, in return because that which George is to get title come one acre at the far end of the lot. George is no entitled come the acre if Arthur defaults, but he might recover for the reasonable worth of the solutions he has actually performed increase to the time of repudiation. Somewhat related, if one side has reasonably and foreseeably relied top top a promise in such a means that injustice deserve to only it is in avoided by enforcing it, part courts will usage promissory estoppel come preclude the need of a writing, however the connection in between the alleged dental contract and also the detrimental reliance have to be convincing.

Oral Rescission

Third, most contracts compelled to be in writing may be rescinded orally. The brand-new agreement is treated in result as a modification of the old one, and also since a complete rescission will certainly not usually cause any action the statute needs to be in writing, the rescission becomes effective in the lack of any type of signed memorandum.

Some agreements, however, might not it is in rescinded orally. Those the by their terms preclude dental rescission room an noticeable class. Under the UCC, certain agreements for the sale of items may not be orally rescinded, relying on the circumstances. Because that instance, if title has currently passed to the the person who lives under a written commitment that satisfies the statute, the contract have the right to be rescinded just by a writing. Contracts for the sale of soil are another class of agreements that typically may not be orally rescinded. If location has already been transferred, or if there has actually been a material adjust of place in reliance on the contract, oral agreements to rescind room unenforceable. However a contract that remains wholly executory, also though enforceable because in writing, may be rescinded orally in most states.

Contract Modification

Fourth, contract governed by the state of Frauds may be modification orally if the result contract, taken together a whole, falls outside the statute. The very same rule uses under the UCC.Uniform commercial Code, section 2-209(3). Thus a created contract for the sale of a brand-new bicycle precious $1,200 might be orally modification by substituting the revenue of a provided bicycle worth $450, but not by substituting the revenue of a supplied bike precious $600. The modified contract effectively rescinds the initial contract.

Key Takeaway

The statute of Frauds, an old legislative intrusion into common-law contracts, requires that particular contracts be shown by part writing, signed through the party to it is in bound, to be enforceable. Among those affected by the statute room contracts because that an interest in real estate, contracts the by your terms can not be performed within one year, contracts by which one human agrees to salary the blame of another, contracts including the exchange of factor to consider upon promise come marry (except common promises to marry), and, under the UCC, contract in an amount higher than $500. For each contract impacted by the statute, there are assorted exceptions to plan to protect against the state from being provided to avoid oral contracts once it is really likely together were in reality made.

The writing need not be a contract; something in writing, signed through the person to be bound, mirroring adequate contractual intention will take the matter out the the state and enable a party to attempt to display the presence of the oral contract.

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There might be relief under restitution or promissory estoppel. Contracts influenced by the statute deserve to usually be orally rescinded. Any type of contract can be modified or rescinded; if the new oral contract together modified does not autumn within the statute, the statute does not apply.


What is the function of the statute of Frauds? What common-law contract are impacted by it, and what space the exceptions? exactly how does the UCC attend to the statute of Frauds? how is the need of the statute satisfied? contracts can constantly be modified. How does the statute of Frauds play v contract modification?