Florida Statute of Frauds Attorney | What is the Statute of Frauds in Florida?
As a Florida Statute of Frauds attorney, it is important to educate clients when they ask, “what is the Statute of Frauds in Florida?” Often, clients enter into verbal contracts without understanding the consequences of having done so. Other times, a person may be accused of having entered into an oral contract and they were unaware they had made any agreement at all. One way that the Florida Legislature and the Florida courts have offered some protection to the parties that enter into a verbal contract/agreement, is by enforcing the Florida Statute of Frauds. This article includes Florida Statute of Frauds case law for your reference.
Florida Statute of Frauds Case Law
Florida Statute of Frauds case law provides the essence of the Statute: “The Statute of Frauds is a legislative prerogative…that certain contracts should not be enforced unless supported by written evidence.” Hedge Capital Investments Ltd. v. Sustainable Growth Grp. Holdings, LLC, 952 F. Supp. 2d 1300, 1308 (S.D. Fla. 2013), order vacated in part, appeal dismissed in part, 593 F. App’x 937 (11th Cir. 2014). Further, “The Statute of Frauds…concerns about the reliability of oral evidence.” Gen. Dynamics Corp. v. United States, 563 U.S. 478, 488, 131 S. Ct. 1900, 1908, 179 L. Ed. 2d 957 (2011). A Florida Statute of Frauds attorney can help explain the basis of the law to clients and elaborate as to how it applies in your unique contracts case. See also LynkUs Commc’ns, Inc. v. WebMD Corp., 965 So. 2d 1161, 1165 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007).
Florida Statute of Frauds § 725.01
According to the Florida Statute of Frauds § 725.01, there are several defined instances where people must protect themselves. People should draft a detailed writing of their sales agreement. According to Florida law, there are six types of contracts that (generally speaking) must be put into a writing in order to be enforceable in a Florida court. As a Florida Statute of Frauds attorney, it is important to have these contracts committed to memory!
The contracts covered by the Florida Statute of Frauds are:
(a) the sale in an interest of land (even a partial interest such as a tenancy in common);
(b) the sale of goods totaling $500 or greater;
(c) consideration of marriage (including prenuptial/antenuptial agreements) (this is a fun subject that is often studied by law students to develop the nuances of contract law);
(d) a performance that could not be completed in less than a year;
(e) suretyship (where a third party (such as an insurer) promises to repay the debt owed by a debtor to a creditor); and
(f) an estate executer using his own personal funds to pay estate debts.
According to the Florida Statute of Frauds, a written memorialization of the contracts listed above must comply both with certain basic/foundational requirements and include the essential terms of the agreement (specificity is critical). A knowledgeable Florida Statute of Frauds attorney will be able to spot these technicalities. Specifically, the writing must identify the parties to the contract (buyer, seller, third parties, etc.), the subject matter of the contract, and the terms and conditions of the agreement. Of critical importance for the party seeking to enforce the contract in court, the writing must be signed by the person against whom enforcement is sought. This means that if I am a buyer, and the seller fails to provide the items we contracted for, it would be difficult to enforce the contract if the seller had never signed it.
“The Statute should be strictly construed to prevent the fraud it was designed to correct, and so long as it can be made to effectuate this purpose, courts should be reluctant to take cases from its protection.” Id. (LynkUs Commc’ns, Inc. v. WebMD Corp).
When a Florida Statute of Frauds attorney files a lawsuit under a contract that is covered by the Florida Statute of Frauds and the parties never reduced it to writing, the defendant will likely raise the Statute as an affirmative defense. Affirmative defenses are often waived if not pled by the defendant.
According to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1.140 and 1.110(d), the Statute of Frauds defense MUST be raised in the answer or reply. If the defense is not made, the defense is considered to have been waived. This means that even though the contract would have been unenforceable and the defendant could have avoided liability on the contract, the lawsuit would continue and the Statute of Frauds would no longer be applicable to shield the defendant from liability on/for the contract. A Florida Statute of Frauds attorney will know when to plead affirmative defenses and how to counter them if argued.
Additional Florida Statute of Frauds Case Law
“The Statute of Frauds was enacted to prevent perjury and the enforcement of claims based on memories made faulty by the lapse of time, or loose verbal statements, and should be strictly construed.” Rowland v. Ewell, 174 So. 2d 78, 80 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1965). Yates v. Ball, 1938, 132 Fla. 132, 181 So. 341. It is important for parties to an oral agreement to understand which contracts fall under the scope of the Statute in order to protect themselves appropriately. Careful and prudent buyers and sellers seek to understand the limits of their potential liability(ies). “[I]t is preferable [for the court] to leave the parties without a remedy rather than risk the ‘potential injustice’ . . . of misjudging the superior-knowledge issue based on a distorted evidentiary record.” Gen. Dynamics Corp. v. United States, 563 U.S. 478, 488–89 (2011). “Full performance of an oral agreement, however, may remove the agreement from the statute of frauds if the agreement is capable of being performed within a year and was, in fact, performed within one year.” LaRue v. Kalex Const. & Dev., Inc., 97 So. 3d 251, 254 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).
Neyza Guzman is a third-year law student and Juris Doctor candidate at Barry University School of Law who will sit for the Florida Bar in July 2019. She excels with legal research and writing and continues to distinguish herself in the family law field as a researcher and a scholarly writer.
Jonathan Jacobs is a Florida Statute of Frauds Attorney, a divorce attorney in Orlando and a family law attorney in Clermont Florida who treats his clients with the care and compassion they need. Call us to find out about your contractual rights in Florida.