Are There Exceptions to the Requirement that Certain Contracts Must be in Writing?

As discussed in a recent blog entry, Florida has a "statute of frauds" which states that certain types of contracts must be in writing. These include contracts which involve: 1. an agreement to guarantee another person's debt; 2. an agreement for the sale of real property; 3. an agreement for the lease of real property for more than one year; 4. an agreement where the performance is for more than one year; and 5. an agreement for the purchase of goods for $500 or more. 

As attorneys, we are often asked whether there are any exceptions to these statute of frauds requirements--and the answer is "yes."

One notable exception is the "performance" exception. This involves a situation where an oral agreement is made, which should have been in writing, but where the agreement is still enforceable even though not in compliance with the statute of frauds. Under this exception, even though there is no written contract, the law will enforce the agreement because one party has performed under the agreement. 

Here is an example:  A supplier orally agrees to sell a caterer some prime beef for an upcoming BBQ event. The caterer orally agrees to pay the supplier $1000 for the beef. The supplier delivers the beef and the caterer uses it the following day at the event. The supplier asks for payment and the caterer objects that since the agreement involved the sale of goods in excess of $500, a written contract was required (as provided in the statute of frauds). Can the supplier enforce the contract?  The answer is "yes" since the supplier performed its side of the bargain, the caterer must pay.



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