Statute of Frauds

Although ‘Statute of Frauds’ is now a generalised term, it references a particular English 1677 law entitled An Act for Prevention of Frauds and Perjuries – which specified that various types of contracts and agreements had to be made in writing (at a time where approximately 60% or more of English men and 85% of English women were estimated to be illiterate (by rates of signatures as opposed to ‘marks,’ i.e., ‘X’ on marriage registers.) The rationale was that the courts were being clogged with cases involving agreements which were old, and to which there was little clear evidence as to what was agreed. The 1677 statute was not the first of its type, but the term has come to be applied widely and internationally, especially in Common Law countries to statutes that require certain contracts to be in writing.

As a general principle, Statutes of Fraud usually apply to contracts for the sale of land (the contract being referred to as Deed) and to contracts that are to be performed over a period or time or at some future date (typically 1 year after the contract is agreed.)

Related Terms