7 Things I Learned About The Statute of Frauds

The Oklahoma Statute of Frauds, 15 O.S. § 136, requires that agreements for the sale of real property “… be in writing and subscribed by the party to be charged…”

  1. “…be in writing…” does NOT mean that you need one piece of paper that contains all the necessary elements. Rather, it is interpreted to mean that a complete contract may be made through several different writings that are so related to the subject-matter and are so connected with each other that it may be fairly said that they constitute one paper relating to the contract.
  2. “…subscribed…” typically means signed. But, this requirement will be met if the party types their name at the end of an e-mail or text message.
  3. “…party to be charged…” is the party under the obligation. Often, the party to be charged is the one arguing that the writing did NOT meet the statute of frauds, and thus no contract existed.
  4. The writing (if it involves real property) must set forth the 1) parties, 2) subject matter (terms of the sale), 3) price, and 4) description of the property.
  5. Just suppose that the legal description is lacking. One may still satisfy the statute if the party to be charged 1) owns but one parcel of property answering the description in the writing, and 2) the description is definite enough that the purchaser knows exactly what he is buying and the seller knows what he is selling.
  6. If the writings are made up of e-mail messages and/or texts, then plan to authenticate the writings using the rules of evidence.
  7. BIG exception to the rule that agreements for the sale of real property must be in writing.

A partially performed, oral contract may be enforceable pursuant to the doctrine of partial performance, so as to take it out of statute of frauds, by (here comes the legal test) delivery of possession of land to, or assumption of exclusive by purchaser, with seller’s knowledge, and part payment of consideration, by purchaser’s expenditure of money in making improvements permanently beneficial to estate, with seller’s knowledge and pursuant to contract, by such acts of parties under contract as to alter their positions, so that restoration to their former positions is impractical or impossible, or by such conduct of parties thereunder that application of statute in one party’s favor would inflict unjust and unconscientious injury to or loss on other party.

Gary David Quinnett, PLLC, (405) 312-1331, Gary@GQ-law.com

On August 27, 2013, Gary Quinnett presented a legal seminar on commercial real estate issues. The attendees rated him "Excellent"