New York Statute of Frauds

In general, it is a good idea to have agreements and contracts in writing. A writing is generally more clear and less susceptible to jaded recollection than an oral agreement, for instance. In some instances, however, the law requires that an agreement or contract must be in writing in order to be enforceable. This requirement for a writing is called the Statute of Frauds. In California, the Statute of Frauds is in California Civil Code section 1624. In mid-2017, I made a Youtube video in which I went over California’s Statute of Frauds.

I have a bunch of other videos on my Youtube channel as well. Most are California-focused because that’s where I practice primarily, but I am trying to add more New York videos. Due to New York Judiciary Law section 470, though, (see below), my New York videos are going to go over statutes and other publicly-available legal resources only. Anyway, take a look around the channel and subscribe.

New York has the Statute of Frauds as well. The idea is the same — namely, that certain agreements and contracts must be in writing in order to be enforceable — but as is usually the case, the implementation varies from state-to-state. In other words, New York’s Statute of Frauds requires different agreements be in writing than California’s Statute of Frauds does.

New York’s Statute of Frauds is codified in New York General Obligations Law Section 5-701. I’ll go over that section briefly, but I encourage you to take a look at the actual statute section in order to get a complete description of what agreements are covered. The following agreements have to be in writing in order to be enforced in New York:

  1. Agreements that are, per their terms, not to be performed within a year of it’s making or within the lifetime of one of the parties,
  2. Agreements that are promises to answer for the “debt, default, or miscarriage of another person.” One of example of this would be an agreement to answer for the debts of another person,
  3. Agreements made in consideration of marriage. Mutual promises to marry are excepted,
  4. New or subsequent agreements to pay a debt that was previously discharged in bankruptcy,
  5. Agreements to assign the benefits of a life, health or accident insurance policy,
  6. Agreements to name a beneficiary to a life, health or accident insurance policy,
  7. Agreements to pay for negotiation services or representation in the buying, selling, or renting of real estate or a business opportunity.

Again, the above is just a summary of what agreements the Statute of Frauds in New York require be in writing in order to be enforced. For a full description of the New York Statute of Frauds, please see New York General Obligations Law Section 5-701.

Lastly, I encourage you to also look up New York Judiciary Law Section 470 which requires that lawyers licensed in New York state also maintain a physical office in New York state in order to practice law there. As of the date of this blog post (June 17, 2018), I do not have an office in New York state so I am unable to practice law and accept clients in New York. I might have an office in New York state at the time you’re actually reading this post. The only way to know is to check this website.

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

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