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The Statute of Frauds as Contracts Enforcement

The Statute of Frauds is crucial legislation that makes various assignments powerful and excludes the risk of falsification. Commenced in 1677 by the English Parliament, the act requires written and signed forms of documentation and provides a more forceful guarantee than oral contracts (Wen). The concept is broadly utilized in the modern jurisdiction, and the subjects involved are being regulated by it to decrease the litigation opportunity in different types of relations. This paper aims to discuss the importance of the Statute of Frauds based on the situations, such as wills’ formalities, marriage contracts, business agreements, sales, intellectual property protection, and debt regulation.

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The Statute of Frauds developed in seventeenth-century England, where oral agreements and contracts prevailed, making it almost impossible to make correct disputes and providing opportunities for fraud to occur. Consequently, the demand for considerable evidence led the legislators to craft an Act that protects transactions and crucial agreements by written signatures (Wen). Barnes claims that the purpose of the Statute of Frauds is “is the prevention of the fraudulent assertion of a non-existent oral contract” (475). The legislation still serves that aim, yet today it also empowers critical documentation such as wills, marriage contracts, or significant sales agreements. However, as digitalization and technological novelties affect the way written assignments are produced, the question of the Statute’s actuality emerges.

The Statute of Frauds is being utilized to enforce various agreements in the modern legislative system, and its demand can be evaluated through the analysis of situations where it enforces a contract. Firstly, a will preparation commonly requires it to be hand-written and signed to solidify the authority of a testator (Crawford 270). The Statute of Frauds is applied to that situation in most states and requires the successors to follow the conditions of the contract, making them unable to dispute if the signature owner has already passed. Crawford emphasizes that “the true purpose of wills formalities – authenticating a document like the one executed by the testator to serve as the binding directive for the post-mortem distribution of the testator’s property” (273). The Statute of Frauds requirement for the written form is crucial today as it leaves authority on the side of the initiator regardless of their presence during the conditions’ execution.

A testator with a variety of properties and successors might be expected to leave the goods for certain relatives. However, as a will is revealed, it might turn out that the decision was different. An oral contract can be confirmed only when both sides admit it, and this approach evidently unsuitable for a will (Crawford 283). In such a situation, heirs could argue that they had the devisor’s oral promise, yet a will’s conditions enforced under the Statute of Frauds would be paramount.

Second, today the Statute of Frauds is applicable to marriage contracts, which are necessary when the sides would like to clarify properties’ ownership. The legislation is also demanded in that situation because an agreement cannot be completed within one year (Wen 18). If the Statute of Frauds’ conditions is not satisfied in the marriage, some oral contracts or promises would be incapable of presenting and disputing in a court (Wen). Hand-written and signed documentation with financial obligations and divorce conditions agreement is a powerful tool if the partners’ relationship declines in the future.

When one side promises some benefits for another, they still have the legal ability not to keep it unless there is a written confirmation of what they intended to do. For example, if a partner says that once a couple is married, they will pay half of the student loan for the other person and then fails to do it, the affected person cannot suit them. An oral promise would be within the Statute, and as there is no written contract, a partner cannot be obliged to pay (Hunter 7). It is crucial for such assignments to include dates and signatures of both sides that would benefit if they are made in person with a witness rather than through digital devices. Consequently, the Statute of Frauds has the considerations and requirements suitable for marriage contracts.

Third, real estate contracts are in the Statute of Frauds jurisdiction as the operations are considerable. Indeed, the sales price is more than five hundred dollars, such agreements are frequently performed for more than one year, and a land’s ownership might belong to several individuals (Burke 174). Real estate broadly uses the Statute of Frauds as a defense in courts, eliminating the authority of unkept oral promises. For instance, in the case of selling property such as a farm to cousins, it might seem convenient that the oral agreement is sufficient. However, the relativity of the people involved and that the land remains inside of a family would not be a shred of strong evidence. If one side decides not to buy a property, and the other suits for the breach of contract, the court would require the oral contract for a real estate sale to be in writing to be within the Statute of Frauds (Burke 180). Handshakes with a family member must be captured by the written agreement to become enforced under the Statute.

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Fourth, transactions related to debt payments and other long-term financial operations are also common in modern business relations. Therefore, the agreements’ legal regulation is crucial. While the conditions of the Statute of Frauds are different per state, their appliance for actions with the money is mostly similar (Wen). Indeed, the debt payment and loan providence require guarantees from all participants, and, if made in writing, a contract is suitable to serve as an assurance. An executor could have oral agreements on how they will operate with the money. However, it must be solidified and signed by each person involved to replace promises with obligations. Furthermore, such operations as debt payments might last more than a year and contain a price higher than five hundred dollars – general requirements for contracts to be enforced under the Statute of Frauds.

The Statute of Frauds implementation based on the financial operations can be viewed in the example of how banks operate with their clients when providing the latter with long-term credits. As an executor, an individual signs the contract with certain conditions obligatory to be performed for the agreement to work (Hunter 9). Consequently, in the case of non-fulfillment, the sanctions can be assigned, and under the Statute, the affected person must comply with them. Today, technologies allow replacing meetings and agreements signed with digital documentation; however, the risk of a signature theft emerges (Barnes 480). A contract in writing would be the most forceful from a judicial perspective due to its guarantees.

Lastly, long-term agreements require written confirmation to provide guarantees for an executor and consider all conditions even in several years. The Statute of Frauds requires such contracts to be written to protect the rights and make the extended collaborations legally enforceable (Barnes 517). Oral agreements might be forgotten or denied, therefore a partnership cannot be built on non-written fundament. Moreover, the one-year rule of the Statute of Frauds requires to be evidenced by written and signed documentation to be enforceable, emphasizing the time when the performance would be complete (Hunter 8). For instance, writers or research teams whose work might take an extended period to be completed frequently require written, dated, and signed contracts. Details such as non-disclosure conditions, funding, obligations, and emergencies’ management are commonly mentioned there, and in writing, signatures oblige all involved sides to consider them (Hunter 14). In that situation, The Statute of Frauds enforces the contract’s power to defend an executor’s copyright and provide insurance for the long-term work.

The Statute of Frauds has been developed and commenced several centuries ago, however, it remains a powerful condition to manage interpersonal, business, and financial relations from the legislative perspective. Considering the five examples of situations where the Statute of Frauds enforces agreements and provides evidence that might influence a dispute decision, it is clear the legislation should not be abolished. While the technologies continue developing, actions such as oral agreements, promises, and unevaluated decisions still exist in people’s lives. Executing the Statute of Frauds’ requirements might digitalize, yet it is critical to consider the security risks of the approach includes.

References

Barnes, Wayne. “The Judicial Admissions Exception to the Statute of Frauds: A Curiously Gradual Exception.” Wake Forest Law Review, vol. 55, no. 3, 2020, pp. 475-523. Web.

Burke, Barlow. Examples & Explanations for Real Estate Transactions. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2018.

Crawford, Bridget J. “Wills Formalities in the Twenty-First Century.” Wisconsin Law Review, 2019, pp. 269-295.

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Hunter, Robert D. “Common Law Contracts.” In Contracts for Engineers. CRC P, 2017, pp. 1-18.

Wen, Dr. Wei. “Unenforceable, Unformed and Invalid Oral Land Sale Contracts: A Comparative Analysis of the Chinese ‘Statute of Frauds’ and the Equivalent Legislation in Common Law Jurisdictions.” Journal of Contract Law, vol. 36, no. 3, 2020.

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