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Monday, January 12, 2009

The Statute of Frauds: It's Not What it Sounds Like (What you should put in writing)

Based on its name you might think that the Statute of Frauds has something to do with criminal or civil fraud, but it doesn't. The name "Statute of Frauds" actually refers to a law passed by the British Parliament in 1677, and the name has been retained through the centuries. It specifies which kinds of contracts must be in writing in order to be enforceable. Its purpose is to prevent the setting up of supposed agreements and then supporting them by perjury.

The most common applications of the Statute of Frauds are as follows:

* Holding a person responsible for the promise to pay the debt of another
* Contracts for the sale of real estate
* Leases for real estate over 1 year
* Agreements which cannot be performed within 1 year
* Sale of personal property over $5,000
* Sale of goods over $500, unless the buyer accepts the goods
* Agency agreements

While the Statute requires a written agreement, almost any writing sufficient to indicate some kind of agreement between the parties will suffice. However, the "writing" must be signed by the party who is being charged. Thus, the venerable Statute of Frauds is still an important and influential part of modern law.

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The above article is not meant to replace legal counsel. To speak to one of Gross & Romanick's attorneys please contact them directly by filling out their online form, email them at law@gross.com, or call (703) 273-1400.