CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Hickey (Plaintiffs), bring an action for enforcement of an oral contract for the sale of real property.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Statute of Frauds (SOF) requires a contract for the sale of real property to be in writing. An exception to the requirement is when a party to the oral contract partially performed in reliance on the oral contract. Part performance allows the specific enforcement of an oral contract when particular acts, such as paying part of the purchase price or making improvements on the property, have been performed by one of the parties to the agreement.
While earlier Massachusetts decisions laid down somewhat strict requirements for an estoppel precluding the assertion of the Statute of Frauds, more recent decisions indicate a trend on the part of the Supreme Judicial Court to find that the circumstances warrant specific performance.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether a party’s part performance in reliance on an oral contract to purchase real property makes the contract enforceable?
Held. Remanded. The reliance of the Plaintiffs on their oral contract with the Defendant created an enforceable contract for the sale of real property. The case is remanded back to the trial court to amend the judgment to require conveyance of the property only on payment to her of the agreed price of 15,000 dollars.
Discussion. The SOF requires an action for the sale of real property to be in writing and signed by the purchaser. If an action for the sale of real property is not in writing and signed by the purchaser the sale if void. An exception to this rule is part performance by one of the parties to the contract. If one of the parties to the contract has substantially performed in reliance on the contract, such to make it unjust to void the contract because of lack of writing, the contract will be upheld.