Are oral agreements dealing with land enforceable …
Generally, the law in Australia provides that land can only be transferred or dealt its if there is a written document signed by the parties that reflects the intention. The exception is if there is an oral agreement that is partly performed.
In 2002 and following, two couples conducted a series of property transactions. Ultimately one of the parties involved, Leon Papikos, claimed that he had an interest in one the properties following a oral agreement that he claimed had been reached with another of the parties.
The court held that there was no written document reflecting the alleged agreement. Leon sought to rely on the fact that the oral agreement was partly performed. The acts of part performance he relied on were the payment of certain sums of money by Leon to one of the other parties. The difficulty that Leon faced was that the acts he relied on were not clearly referable to the oral agreement that he claimed existed.
The law in Australia is that the acts relied on must be clearly and unequivocally referable to the oral contract sought to be enforced.
Leon argued in the High Court that this strict test should be relaxed. The court refused to change the law and Leon’s appeal claiming an interest in the land was dismissed.
Lunar New Year
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