Facts: D allegedly contracted to sell P 15 acres of land. P’s live in FL and telephoned D,
in GE about land owned by D in SC. The only written evidence of the contract is a check
mailed by P for $200 as part payment. Written on it “15 acres in Pickens, SC, land
binder, 30 days from date of check to June 3, 1970.” D endorsed and cashed the check.
Subsequently, D advised P they did not wish to sell toe property as it would cause trouble
in the family and returned the $200. Trial court held there was a binding contract and
ordered specific performance (because land is unique).
Issue:
Holding: Reversed.
Rationale:
– The Statute of Frauds does not require any specific form of writing. However, the
writings must establish the essential terms of the contract without resort to parol
evidence…one of the essential terms of a contract of sale of land is the
identification of the land. A decree for specific performance operates as a deed,
hence, the land must be described so as to indicate with reasonable certainty what
is to be conveyed.
– The degree and certainty required is reasonable certainty, having regard to the
subject-matter of the contract.
– Here, the alleged contract gives no definite location or shape of the 15 acres. In
order to obtain specific performance, the writing must contain the essential terms
of the contract. They must be expressed with such definiteness, certainty, and
clarity that it may be understood without recourse to parol evidence to show the
intention of the parties.
– The terms must be written so that neither party can reasonably misunderstand
them.