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Unformatted text preview: ament in 1677. The law was concerned with fraud on the courts, rather than the tort of fraud such as we examined in Chapter 2. In other words, the authorities were concerned that people were suing for breach of contract and lying in court about having an oral agreement. It seemed as though whoever could bribe the most witnesses would win the case! The English legislature decided that in cases where it was difficult to understand why a person would have promised something (for example, why would you want to pay someone else’s debt?) or where the stakes were high (such as the sale of land), the law should require that the parties put their agreement in writing, or it would be unenforceable.
Note that unenforceable simply means that if one party refuses to go through with the deal, the other cannot sue successfully for breach. In many situations the parties will go ahead and perform the oral contract. Once they have performed, it no longer matters that the contract was oral when it should have been written. These contracts are not...
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