The Statute of Frauds

The Statute of Frauds 1695 requires that certain types of agreements are not enforceable unless put into written form signed by the parties, in order that fraudulent conduct and the submission of perjured evidence may be avoided in a courtroom involving the existence or the details of the contract in question.

The legal requirements of the Statute entail that certain details of the agreement be recorded in a memorandum, notably the property, the parties and the price, in addition to any information the parties consider to be important. Moreover, the memorandum should have been compiled before an action is brought to enforce the contract.

It is submitted that these requirements are not burdensome, onerous or complex, but rather, are basic and quite easily satisfied and that this is due to the courts ‘preferring to find a contract to be enforceable than unenforceable’[1] , and consequently interpreting memorandums liberally and somewhat loosely.

The memorandum required by the Statute need not be compiled specifically to serve this purpose so long as it recognises the existence of a contract and sets out its terms. The Courts have accepted letters written by solicitors (among others) which had not been deliberated for this reason, as well as cheques and receipts, auctioneer’s sale books, a recital or disposition in a will, an exchange between one of the parties and his agent etc..[2]
In Tradax ( Ireland) Limited v Irish Grain Board Limited[3], it was even held by Mr. Justice Gannon, the relevant trial judge, and confirmed unanimously by the Supreme Court, that a letter written by one of the parties’ solicitor for the purpose of repudiating the agreement would be sufficient to satisfy the memorandum. The letter had been written on headed notepaper and signed and included all the relevant details.
In Boyle and Boyle v Lee and Goyns[4], even more liberally, the Court accepted as memorandum a letter of offer, which had been written prior to the conclusion of...