Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Can an E-mail Satisfy the Statute of Frauds?

It can in New York, according to the 2010 decision in Naldi v. Grunberg, 80 A.D.3d 1, 908 N.Y.S.2d 639 (N.Y.A.D. 2010). In the opinion, the court wrote that "[W]e would conclude that the terms "writing" and "subscribed" in General Obligations Law ยง5-703 should now be construed to include, respectively, records of electronic communications and electronic signatures, notwithstanding the limited scope of the 1994 amendment of the general statute of frauds." 

This case concerned a dispute over whether a binding right of first refusal for real property could be created via e-mail.  It is interesting because although the court rejected the argument that the e-mail did not satisfy the statute of frauds, it held that the right of first refusal was not created because there was no meeting of the minds. 

You can find a copy of the opinion here and a recent piece in the New York Times, urging caution when sending e-mails about real estate transactions, here.

Tanya Marsh

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