14.2- Real Property
Is the oral contract between Briggs and Sackett in violation and voidable under the Statute of Frauds? In Briggs v. Sackett, Briggs bought a home under mortgage but came upon unforeseeable financial instability. The Briggs then spoke with their in-laws, the Sacketts, about purchasing the home with the conditions that they pay the 3 months arrearages or the overdue balance on the loan and take over the expenses of the home (future payments, utilities, etc.). After hearing the offer, the Sacketts accepted the Briggs’ conditions for the purchase of the home and an oral contract was put in motion. The Sacketts moved in. Years later Mr. Briggs filed an action under the Statute of Frauds, that the oral contract they made with the Sacketts was voidable because it was in violation of the Statute of Frauds (Briggs v. Sackett, 1980). Per our book, under the Statute of Frauds, contracts that involve the sale of real estate are required to be in writing. Generally, if an oral contract was made but required to be in writing, under the Statute of Frauds the oral contract would be unenforceable (Cheeseman, 2010, p.220).
In the case of Briggs v. Sackett, should Briggs’ action of filing with the court to void their oral contract and evict the Sackett family be enforceable? No, the Sackett family should be considered an exception to the rule, an equity exception of part performance. “If an oral contract for the sale of land or transfer of another interest in real property has been partially performed, it may not be possible to return the parties to their status quo.” Part performance then allows the court to order the oral contract to be “specifically performed” if it was partially performed to avoid injustice (Cheeseman, 2010, p.224).
In Briggs v. Sackett, the courts should see that the Sacketts have sufficient support that voiding the contract would be unjust. Their loyal commitment of paying 15 years of mortgage payments and the arrearages, while the Briggs were still classified as the home owners, should give the court sufficient evidence of being partially performed. The Sacketts win!
16.8- Specific Performance
Should the contract be enforceable by law under specific performance after Avon “uncoupled” the joint venture?
In Liz Claiborne, Inc. v. Avon Products, Inc., Claiborne entered into a joint venture with Avon under the conditions that Avon would procure and manufacture the fragrances, toiletries, and cosmetics while Claiborne would provide their trademarks, names and marketing experience. Both parties also agreed to share financial obligations of the joint venture. Three years after having phenomenal success in sales and given the title of “one of the fastest growing fragrance and cosmetic lines in the county,” Avon “uncoupled” the joint venture and refused to hold up their end of the contract of procuring and manufacturing the products. Claiborne sought for the contract to be enforceable by law under specific performance (Liz Claiborne, Inc. v. Avon Products, Inc., 1988).
Per our book, specific performance is an equitable remedy where the court can order for the “breaching party to perform the acts promised in the contract.” In most specific performance cases, the party seeking specific performance must demonstrate that the goods or products are “unique” (Cheeseman, 2010, p.255).
In the case of Claiborne v. Avon, is specific performance an appropriate remedy? Yes, specific performance is suitable in favor for Claiborne and can’t be ruled out. After Avon “uncoupled” their joint venture, Claiborne sought out other manufacturers to mitigate or “reduce” (Cheeseman, 2010, p.251) their damages and produce the products but were unable to attain the exact product, making the products unique to Claiborne and Avon.
From the facts given, Avon clearly failed to adhere to the contract for whatever reason(s), and the courts should enforce the