Virginia Statute of Frauds: Va. Code Ann. §11-2 – a Lawyer’s Overview.

Virginia Statute of Frauds: Va. Code Ann. §11-2 – a Lawyer’s Overview.

The purposes of the Statute of Frauds simply are to provide reliable evidence of the existence and terms of certain covered contracts and to reduce the likelihood that they can be created or altered by perjury or fraud. E.g., Lindsay v. McEnearney Assocs., 260 Va. 48 (2000). Consequently, the Statute of Frauds never is enforced when the effect thereof would be to perpetrate a fraud or other wrong. E.g., Troyer v. Troyer, 231 Va. 90 (1986); Murphy v. Nolte & Co., 226 Va. 76 (1983); T… v. T…, 216 Va. 867 (1976); and Reynolds v. Dixon, 187 Va. 101 (1948). Thus, even in actions at law, the doctrine of equitable estoppel bars the assertion of a Statute of Frauds defense where there has been reasonable material detrimental reliance. E.g., Tidewater Beverage Servs., Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 907 F.Supp. 943 (E.D. Va. 1995)(Virginia law); Nargi v. Camac Corp., 820 F.Supp. 253 (W.D. Va. 1992)(Virginia law); T… v. T…, 216 Va. 867 (1976).

The Statute of Frauds does not require any particular form of writing or other writing formality whatsoever. It simply mandates a “writing and signed by the party to be charged”. Va. Code Ann. §11-2. And for about 100 years, the Virginia Supreme Court liberally has accepted all manner of writings. E.g., Yaffe v. Heritage Sav. & Loan Assn., 235 Va. 577 (1988)(auctioneer’s memo); Troyer v. Troyer, 231 Va. 90 (1986)(divorce deposition); Fanney v. Virginia Inv. & Mtg. Corp., 200 Va. 642 (1959)(stockholder resolution); Browder v. Mitchell, 187 Va. 781 (1948)(court pleading); Horner v. Holt, 187 Va. 715 (1948)(payment receipt); Reynolds v. Dixon, 187 Va. 101 (1948)(letter); American Surety Co. of New York v. Commonwealth, 180 Va. 97 (1942)(bond receipt); Boston v. Dejarnette, 143 Va. 591 (1930)(land deed); Radford Water Power Co. v. Dunlap, 128 Va. 658 (1920)(telegram); Croghan v. Worthington Howe Co., 115 Va. 497 (1913)(acceptance letter); and Newport News, Hampton & Old Point Dev. Co. v. Newport News St. Ry, 97 Va. 19 (1899)(board resolution).

Also, the Statute of Frauds does not require the writing itself constitute the whole contract. It need only state essential terms. E.g., Troyer v. Troyer, 231 Va. 90 (1986); Murphy v. Nolte & Co., 226 Va. 76 (1983); Fanney v. Virginia Inv. & Mtg. Corp., 200 Va. 642 (1959); Browder v. Mitchell, 187 Va. 781 (1948); and Reynolds v. Dixon, 187 Va. 101 (1948).

Additionally, the Court does not even require that the “writing” actually be a single integrated writing. The “writing” can be several or more separate writings, only one of which is signed. E.g., In re LCS Homes, Inc., 103 B.R. 736 (E.D.Va. 1989)(Virginia law);Hewitt v. Hutter, 406, F.Supp. 976 (W.D.Va. 1975)(Virginia law); American Indus. Corp. v. First and Merchants Natl Bank, 216 Va. 396 (1975); Reynolds v. Dixon, 187 Va. 101 (1948); J. S. Salyer Co. v. Doss Coal Co., 157 Va. 144 (1931); andRadford Water Power Co. v. Dunlap, 128 Va. 658 (1920).

Further, although the Statute of Frauds recites that the writing must be “signed,” an actual signature is not necessary. E.g., Barber & Ross Co. v. Lifetime Doors, Inc., 810 F. 2d 1276 (4th Cir.)(1987), cert. denied 108 S. Ct. 86, 484 U.S. 823, 98 L.E. 2d 48 (1988); Radford Water Power Co. v. Dunlap, 128 Va. 658 (1920). In Barber, printed sales brochures with the maker’s trademark sufficiently authenticated the documents. Similarly, Radford Water Power involved telegrams bearing the name of the maker. Indeed, final delivery of the “signed” writing is not even required. E.g., Boston v. Dejarnette, 153 Va. 591 (1930); and Chiles v. Bowyer, 127 Va. 249 (1920).