Brief Fact Summary.
Defendant and Plaintiff contracted to purchase a subdivision of land, condition on Plaintiff obtaining a permit from the Leicester Planning Commission. In the event that the permit application was denied, Plaintiff and Defendant orally agreed that Defendant would obtain an easement to access the property lake. The Leicester Planning Commission denied the permit. Thereafter, Defendant terminated the entire arrangement. Plaintiff brought suit seeking specific performance, and the trial court from for the Plaintiff. Defendant appeals.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
If a contract is for the sale of land or an interest in land, the contract must be in writing, and the Statute of Frauds controls the contract.
Defendant, Buttolph, was the owner of lakeside property, and Defendant wanted to sell part of the property. Defendant and Chomicky, Plaintiff, began negotiations for Plaintiff to purchase the property. Once the parties came to an agreement, the parties signed a purchase and sale contract. Further, the contract was conditioned on Defendant’s obtaining a subdivision permit from the Leicester Planning Commission, LPC. Thereafter, Plaintiff suggested an alternative arrangement to complete the sale in the event that LPC denied the permit application. The suggestion was that Defendant would sell the entire property to Plaintiff, and, at the same time, Defendant would obtain an easement to access the lake. Defendant agreed orally to this suggestion. Thereafter, LPC denied Plaintiff’s permit application, and Defendant called Plaintiff to tell Plaintiff that the arrangement was terminated. Plaintiff brought suit seeking specific performance. The trial court granted specific performance, and Defendant appealed.
Whether a contact for the sale of land or an interest in land, the contract must be in writing, and the Statute of Frauds controls the contract.
Yes, a contact for the sale of land or an interest in land, the contract must be in writing, and the Statute of Frauds controls the contract.
One may admit the sale of land by a verbal contract, and yet defend an action for specific performance by pleading the statute.View Full Point of Law
If a contract is for the sale of land or an interest in land, the contract must be in writing, and the Statute of Frauds controls the contract. Likewise, a modification or proposal to modify a agreement for the sale of land must also be in writing. Furthermore, if the party charged with making the oral agreement subsequently admits to the existence of the agreement, the Statute of Frauds may still invalidate the agreement. However, a party seeking the enforcement of the contract may assert reliance on the oral contact as an avenue to defeat the Statute of Frauds. Here, the parties formed an oral agreement to pursue an easement in the even that the LPC denied Plaintiff’s permit application. Because it was an oral agreement, this agreement is unenforceable under the Statute of Frauds. Likewise, Plaintiff has not shown sufficient reliance to defeat the assertion of the Statute of Frauds. Nor has Plaintiff shown that he abandoned other opportunities to acquire properties Instead, Plaintiff has simply shown ordinary conduct of a regular purchaser of land. Therefore, the trial court’s ruling is improper as the agreement between the parties violates the Statute of Frauds, and the trial courts ruling is reversed.