For Attorneys
    For the Public
    About Us
    Counsel For Justice
    Law Students
    My Account

LACBA on Facebook.
LACBA on Twitter.
LACBA on LinkedIn.

Table of Contents    Cover    MCLE Test

MCLE Featured Article

Magnificent Exceptions

Despite its seemingly absolute language, the Statute of Frauds is riddled with exceptions 

By Lawrence M. Boesch 

All law students spend time poring over the Statute of Frauds—the rule that requires certain contracts to be in writing. When students become practicing lawyers, many are shocked to learn that the rule is subject to exceptions. Real estate lawyers, family law practitioners, estate planners, and business attorneys, among others, have discovered that ignorance of the exceptions to the Statute of Frauds can be fatal to those who assert the statute as an absolute defense to an opposing party's claims. Claims of equitable estoppel against the assertion of the Statute of Frauds have complicated the practice of law far beyond what law students could ever imagine when they study for the bar exam.

The Statute of Frauds, which is codified at Civil Code Section 1624,1 expressly states that certain oral contracts are not enforceable. Nevertheless, an oral promise within the purview of the Statute of Frauds may be enforceable. This is so because courts reviewing cases in several disparate practice areas have frequently vitiated the Statute of Frauds through equitable estoppel: "[T]he doctrine that one who makes an assertion (or by conduct creates an impression) upon which another relies may not turn around and assert the opposite to gain advantage in subsequent litigation against the other person."2 Clearly, the enforcement of an oral promise that was required to be in writing will not be ensured by a promisee's mere detrimental reliance on the promise. For actions involving the Statute of Frauds, remedies and defenses alike should be based upon equitable principles, even when the action is framed as an action at law.

Whether the doctrine of equitable estoppel should be applied in a given case is generally a question of fact,3 but equitable estoppel, like other affirmative defenses, must be supported by evidence before the Statute of Frauds will be disregarded. Merely alleging estoppel is insufficient if, for example, a party detrimentally relied on a promise by giving up a contract for an indefinite period, terminable at will.4 Under those circumstances, a plaintiff's claim to have lost a "permanent lifetime position" in reliance on an oral promise is not sufficient to establish equitable estoppel against the Statute of Frauds.5

Real Property

Perhaps the most common rationale for the existence of the Statute of Frauds is that it ensures that conveyances of interests in land, leases exceeding one year, and real estate broker commission agreements are set forth in writing.6 Indeed, Civil Code Section 1624 provides that an agreement to transfer an interest in real property must be in writing and signed by the party against whom enforcement is sought. The same is true for leases for a term beyond one year. Even in these situations, however, exceptions are made for equitable estoppel.

Courts were not always inclined to find any option beyond a strict application of the Statute of Frauds. For example, in Kroger v. Baur, a 1941 decision, the Second District Court of Appeal found no exception to the Statute of Frauds in a case in which the defendant refused to pay a real estate sales commission that he had orally agreed to pay.7 The case was presented as a claim of fraud based on the defendant's alleged intentional oral misrepresentations of an intent to pay the plaintiff agents' commission once the sale had closed. The court took a hard line against what it considered an effort to circumvent the Statute of Frauds through a theory of fraud:

If the law can be thus nullified by the transparent device of predicating a tort action upon the invalid oral promise on the ground that the promisor did not intend to perform it, then [Civil Code Section 1624] might just as well be stricken….To license such a circuitous procedure to evade the provisions of such legislation would be to nullify and destroy its wholesome effect and the protection it affords against fraud.8

While Kroger was an unambiguous blow against efforts to thwart the Statute of Frauds, later courts, such as the court in Southern California District Council, Assemblies of God v. Shepherd of the Hills Evangelical Lutheran Church,9 were able to limit the applicability of the Kroger rule. In Southern California District Council, Assemblies of God, a 1978 case, the plaintiff purchased a parcel of land from the defendant, who represented that a driveway on an adjoining plot that the defendant also owned allowed access to the parcel through a zoning variance. Before escrow closed, the defendant convinced the city to eliminate the variance, making the second plot more valuable. In the plaintiff's fraud action based on the defendant's oral misrepresentation regarding the continued existence of the variance, the court had to determine whether the oral representation regarding the availability of the driveway was enforceable without a written memorandum.

The defendant seller in Southern California District Council, Assemblies of God relied on the rule in Kroger that the Statute of Frauds cannot be nullified by "the transparent device of predicating a tort action upon the invalid, oral promise on the ground that the promisor did not intend to perform it." The Southern California District Council, Assemblies of God court distinguished Kroger, stating that the "[p]plaintiffs [in Kroger] merely alleged that the very promise which the Statute of Frauds required to be in writing was made without intention of performing it." Neither the facts nor the contentions in Southern California District Council, Assemblies of God were based on the defendant's oral promise to create an easement across one parcel in consideration for the purchase price of the other. Instead, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant had represented that the plaintiff's purchase of the parcel carried with it the right to continued use of the driveway—a representation of a fact that was true when the representation was made. This made the matter not a promise but a "statement concerning one of the benefits that would follow [the] [p]plaintiff's acquisition of parcel 2, made as an inducement for the purpose of consummating the sale of that parcel."10

Finally, in 1985, the California Supreme Court in Tenzer v. Superscope, Inc. overruled Kroger through the doctrine of equitable estoppel.11 In Tenzer, the plaintiff sought to recover a real estate commission even though there was no subscribed writing. The plaintiff fell within the scope of the Statute of Frauds, for he was "an agent, broker or other person" hired to "find a purchaser or seller of real estate…for compensation or a commission."12 The plaintiff asserted that the seller was equitably estopped from asserting a Statute of Frauds defense, based on the plaintiff having "surrendered [the ultimate buyer's] name" in reliance on the promise of the seller's representative "to pay [the plaintiff] for valuable information which could have been sold elsewhere."13

The Tenzer court found that even though there was no finder's fee exception to the Statute of Frauds, a finder, as opposed to a licensed real estate broker, was entitled to invoke the doctrine of estoppel so long as the finder's reliance on the promise was reasonable and the finder had facts to establish fraud. The supreme court thus overturned the trial court's order granting the seller's motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff's claim to recover a finder's fee. The court also reversed the trial court's entry of summary judgment on the plaintiff's fraud claim, which was based on allegations that the seller "deliberately misled him by falsely promising to compensate him for his services as a finder."14

The Tenzer court strongly disapproved of the rule in Kroger that a fraud claim would nullify the purpose of the Statute of Frauds:

It is simply untrue that a plaintiff who undertakes to plead and prove actionable fraud is attempting to get around the Statute of Frauds by a "transparent device." Kroger seems to assume the inability of a jury to distinguish between an unkept but honest promise and one which the promisor never intended to perform. The law is otherwise.15

The court noted that the "law has traditionally had little sympathy with the broker who has failed to sign up his client,"16 adding that the Statute of Frauds "shall not be made the instrument of shielding, protecting, or aiding the party who relies upon it in the perpetration of a fraud."17 The court concluded that permitting estoppel against the Statute of Frauds in appropriate circumstances would not nullify its effect.18

Closely aligned with the doctrine of equitable estoppel is the joint venture exception to the Statute of Frauds. Agreements among partners or joint venture participants regarding real property are not within the scope of the Statute of Frauds if 1) the agreement is to share profits from rents or sale of real property, and one joint venture participant or partner fails to account to the others,19 2) two or more parties agree to purchase property for their joint account, but one of the parties takes title in that party's name alone,21 or 3) an owner of real property orally agrees to contribute it to a joint venture that, in turn, agrees to operate or sell it.22 In Kaljian v. Menezes,22 a 1995 decision, the court held that the joint venture exception applied only when an agreement does not contemplate a transfer of title to the real property from one joint venture participant or partner to another for consideration.

Detrimental reliance is an implicit element of the joint venture exception. The joint venture exception is based on a variety of theories:

• A contract is outside the Statute of Frauds when its subject matter is profits, rather than title to real property.

• The partnership or joint venture places the parties in a confidential relationship, and the offending party would become constructive trustee for the benefit of the others if there has been a violation of fiduciary duty.

• Creating a joint venture has the effect of vesting title to the property in the entity, rather than in the individual—thus making formal conveyance, and written promises, unnecessary.23

In Kaljian, the trial court held that the defendants were entitled to a jury instruction based on Civil Code Section 1624(a)(3)—despite the joint venture exception asserted by the plaintiffs. The court based its ruling on two factors: the defendants' testimony, supported by unsigned third and fourth drafts of the agreement, that their role in the arrangement would have been as owners selling bare land, and the plaintiffs' acknowledgement that they told the lender, in applying for the construction loans, that they were going to purchase the land. On appeal, this instruction was deemed to be prejudicial, because it was reasonably probable that "if the jury had been instructed on the Statute of Frauds defense, at least three [jury members] who found the existence of a contract would have also found it was one required to be in writing under Civil Code section 1624, subdivision (c) (agreements for the sale of real property), thus affecting the verdict."24 The joint venture exception to the Statute of Frauds was thus available to the plaintiff.

Equitable estoppel can also serve a promisor who contends that a promisee's estoppel claim is misplaced. Evidence Code Section 623 defines the doctrine of "estoppel in pais":

Whenever a party has, by his own statement or conduct, intentionally and deliberately led another to believe a particular thing true and to act upon such belief, he is not, in any litigation arising out of such statement or conduct, permitted to contradict it.

Thus, for example, when Partner A stands by while Partner B takes title to real property in Partner B's name alone, does not contribute any consideration to enable the purchase to take place, and is fully aware that Partner B is adamant about not "co-owning property jointly with anyone else," then Partner A is estopped from asserting that the title Partner B took was subject to a life estate, a contingent remainder, or any other title interest.25

Employment Law

Another key provision of the Statute of Frauds is that a contract is invalid if, by its terms, it is not to be performed within one year of its making.26 This provision has been applied to oral employment contracts for terms that exceed one year. As with other provisions of the Statute of Frauds, courts will follow the supreme court's 1951 decision in Ruinello v. Murray that "there can be no estoppel unless [the] plaintiff will suffer unconscionable injury or [the] defendant will be unjustly enriched if the oral contract is not enforced."27 In 1984, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Munoz v. Kaiser Steel Corporation28 applied this rule in examining whether the defendant employer was estopped from asserting the Statute of Frauds. The Munoz court quoted Ruinello's reasoning for upholding an estoppel against an assertion of the Statute of Frauds:

"To state a cause of action based on unconscionable injury, it is not enough to allege that [the] plaintiff gave up existing employment to work for [the] defendant. [The plaintiff] must set forth his rights under the contract given up and show that they were so valuable that unconscionable injury would result from refusing to enforce the oral contract with [the] defendant."29

According to Munoz, "The touchstone under California law is unjust enrichment of the party to be estopped or unconscionable injury to the other party."30 In Munoz, evidence on a summary judgment motion showed that the plaintiff "did not relinquish existing employment to accept the job with Kaiser [but] was unemployed at the time, having lost two jobs…in Texas, had grown up in the Redlands area [where] his parents and brother were living…and he sought employment only in Southern California because [he] wanted to come back to where [he] was born and raised."31 Under those facts, the court concluded that there was insufficient evidence that the plaintiff suffered unconscionable injury, and the Statute of Frauds was properly asserted.

The Munoz court distinguished the case from Seymour v. Oelrichs, a 1909 California Supreme Court decision.32 In Seymour, the plaintiff had left a secure job as captain of detectives in the San Francisco Police Department to accept a position with the defendants in reliance on the defendants' promise to reduce their 10-year oral employment contract to a writing and to execute it after the plaintiff resigned from the police department.33 The supreme court upheld the appellant's argument for the application of equitable estoppel against the Statute of Frauds and observed that there is "no good reason for limiting the operation of this equitable doctrine to any particular class of contracts included within the Statute of Frauds, provided always the essential elements of an estoppel are present.…"34

The Munoz court also rejected a claim based on promissory estoppel. Promissory estoppel serves as a substitute for consideration but also eliminates the need for a writing under the Statute of Frauds if there is an additional showing of a promise to reduce the contract to writing.35 If the plaintiff had given up the right to another job

in reliance on an oral agreement, the Statute of Frauds would not bar recovery for the plaintiff.36 In Munoz, however, without a claim or proof that the defendant promised to reduce the oral agreement to writing, and without evidence that the plaintiff "gave up secure, existing employment to go to work for Kaiser"—indeed, he had been unable to maintain stable employment—the court found the plaintiff's opposition to summary judgment "insufficient to establish unconscionable injury."37

Moreover, the Munoz court rejected an argument based on Section 139(1) of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts: "A promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance on the part of the promisee or a third person and which does induce the action or forbearance is enforceable notwithstanding the Statute of Frauds, if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise." The court interpreted this provision from the Restatement as "meaning essentially the same thing substantively as the cited California authorities mean by their requirement of unjust enrichment to the defendant or unconscionable injury to the plaintiff."38

Finally, the Munoz court rejected a promissory fraud argument based on Section 530 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts: "An action for promissory fraud is not barred by the fact that the promise is required to be in writing to constitute an enforceable contractual obligation." The Munoz court ruled that an action for promissory fraud cannot be based on an oral agreement that would be invalid under the Statute of Frauds.39 That portion of the decision, though, is now suspect since it predated Tenzer and relied on the now-disfavored Kroger rationale.

Business Law

Equitable estoppel against the assertion of the Statute of Frauds as a defense to oral contracts is alive and well in business law, as evidenced by two recent Ninth Circuit cases based on California law.

In Pahl v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue,40 the Ninth Circuit in 1998 reviewed a Tax Court decision holding that a lawyer who joined a Subchapter S corporation by purchasing 25 percent of the audited book value of the corporation was a beneficial owner, if not a legal shareholder—even though the corporate and state bar formalities were not entirely fulfilled in the year in question.41 After finding that state law controls the determination of whether the taxpayer has the requisite interest to create tax liability, and that federal law controls whether that interest creates tax liability,42 the court found that the lawyer could not avail himself of the oral nature of the agreement to prove that he was not a principal of the corporation. The court noted, "Although Pahl did not pay for the shares, the firm changed its name, [he] was made President of the board, managing partner, and CFO, and he guaranteed a $500,000 credit line for the corporation, all according to the oral agreement." The taxpayer thus could have "estopped the firm from invoking a Statute of Frauds defense against enforcement of the agreement, based on his part performance and justified reliance."43

Similarly, in In re Diego's Inc.,44 a 1996 decision, a purchaser was estopped from asserting the Statute of Frauds as a defense to an action by the bankrupt party's chapter 11 trustee for breach of contract. The Ninth Circuit found that the trustee relied to the estate's detriment on an oral promise to purchase real property, which included a restaurant, by turning down two other purchase offers. Though not stated in its discussion of equitable estoppel, the court acknowledged the indicia of an agreement by pointing out the fact that the bankruptcy court had authorized the sale pursuant to the trustee's oral acceptance of the defendant's bid, which preceded the court's advice to the defendant that it was unable to order transfer of the restaurant's liquor license. During that discussion, the defendant did not try to withdraw his offer but instead asked the bankruptcy court to "leave the escrow closing date 'somewhat open' so that he could make [those] applications."45

To support its decision in In re Diego's, the Ninth Circuit referenced California case law permitting a remedy for a seller "against purchasers who renege on oral contracts and cause sellers to forsake other sale opportunities and resell later at a loss."46 Expecting the seller (or its trustee) to absorb the loss "of [50] percent of the contractual price" was deemed "unconscionable"—and thus not subject to the Statute of Frauds.47

However, equitable estoppel would not be available if the unsuccessful purchasers' only claim of detrimental reliance was that 1) they did not immediately demand or obtain return of a $30,000 down payment, 2) they did not cancel an alleged agreement because of a third party's lis pendens, 3) they cooperated with the vendor in efforts to have the lis pendens expunged, and 4) the down payment in fact was returned, with interest, when the sale was made to someone else.48 Still, the Statute of Frauds does not bar beneficiaries under a purchase money deed of trust from recovering for unjust enrichment (not an action on the contract or subterfuge for contract) against the nonassuming grantee who sold property after the trustee erroneously reconveyed the deed of trust and obtained all the proceeds from the sale.49

Domestic Relations and Estate Planning

Until 1998, Civil Code Section 1624(3) required "an agreement made upon consideration of marriage other than a mutual promise to marry" to be in writing.50 In 1998, the state legislature enacted SB 1865, which rewrote the portion of Section 1624 that specified the types of contracts that are invalid unless they are in writing and subscribed to by the party to be charged or the party's agent.51 In so doing, the legislature dropped the provision regarding agreements made on consideration of marriage,52 although antenuptial agreements are still enforceable between "prospective spouses"53 to the extent they are set forth in "writing and signed by both parties,"54 even if the agreements are not supported by consideration.55

Equitable estoppel has long been a method for avoiding the Statute of Frauds56 in countering an attack on the pleading of a cause of action or subsequently in defending against motions to avoid trial. In domestic relations, a party to an oral cohabitation agreement may be equitably estopped from asserting the Statute of Frauds by way of demurrer, motion for summary judgment, or at trial, when the other party pleads and eventually proves reliance on an oral promise to the promisee's detriment. For example, in Whorton v. Dillingham, a 1988 case, a woman ceased her formal education earlier than she had planned—based on her partner's promises regarding support and the sharing of accumulated property—so that she could assist in her partner's business ventures. The court held that the woman stated a cause of action for breach of contract despite the Statute of Frauds.57

In another case, Byrne v. Laura, the First District Court of Appeal held in 1997 that a cohabitant who fulfilled her part of a bargain under an oral property agreement because of her love for her late cohabitant—and not just because of desire for his property—could successfully defend against a motion for summary judgment by invoking the principle of equitable estoppel.58 The court quoted and relied on Justice Roger Traynor's analysis from a case decided in 1950:

"The doctrine of estoppel to assert the Statute of Frauds has been consistently applied by the courts of this state to prevent fraud that would result from refusal to enforce oral contracts in certain circumstances. Such fraud may inhere in the unconscionable injury that would result from denying enforcement of the contract after one party has been induced by the other seriously to change his position in reliance on the contract."59

Equitable estoppel has been applied against the assertion of the Statute of Frauds by executors and administrators of estates. Both Civil Code Section 1624(a)(5) and Probate Code Section 150 require that an agreement that cannot be performed within the promisor's lifetime must be in writing.60 Equitable estoppel principles are available to enforce qualifying oral agreements to make a will or devise that were made prior to 1985.61 The purpose is to prevent the promisee's detrimental reliance from resulting in unconscionable injury.

In Estate of Housley, a 1997 decision, the son's failure to specify dates when a decedent allegedly made oral promises did not preclude the existence of triable issues as to whether the oral agreement existed at all. The court held that triable issues of fact were raised by the plaintiff's testimony that he 1) stayed with the decedent only because the decedent asked for and needed help, 2) would not have taken care of the decedent without the decedent's promise to leave all his property to the plaintiff, and 3) provided care and companionship to the decedent for 35 years in reliance on the promise. Triable issues of fact were found regarding detrimental reliance, possible unconscionable injury to the plaintiff if the alleged oral agreement were not enforced, and possible unjust enrichment by the decedent and beneficiaries if the agreement were not enforced.62 n

1 Civ. Code §1624(a) provides, in pertinent part: "(a) The following contracts are invalid, unless they, or some note or memorandum thereof, are in writing and subscribed by the party to be charged or by the party's agent.…" The Com. Code contains sections that correlate to the Statute of Frauds: See Com. Code §§1206, 2201, 3416, and 8113.

2 James E. Clapp, Dictionary of the Law 164 (2000).

3 Byrne v. Laura, 52 Cal. App. 4th 1054, 1068 (1997) (citing, among other cases, Carlson v. Richardson, 267 Cal. App. 2d 204, 208-09 (1968)).

4 Ruinello v. Murray, 36 Cal. 2d 687, 689 (1951).

5 Id.

6 Civ. Code §1624(4).

7 Kroger v. Baur, 46 Cal. App. 2d 801 (1941).

8 Id. at 803.

9 Southern Cal. Dist. Council, Assemblies of God v. Shepherd of the Hills Evangelical Lutheran Church, 77 Cal. App. 3d 951 (1978).

10 Id. at 959.

11 Tenzer v. Superscope, Inc., 39 Cal. 3d 18 (1985).

12 Former Civ. Code §1624(5), recodified as Civ. Code §1624(a)(4).

13 Tenzer, 39 Cal. 3d at 27.

14 Id. at 28.

15 Id. at 29. See also Simpson v. Allstate Ins. Co., 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10069 (N.D. Cal. 2000) and Snider v. Roadway Packaging Sys., 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4688 (N.D. Cal. 2000).

16 Tenzer, 39 Cal. 3d at 29.

17 Id. at 30 (citing Seymour v. Oelrichs, 156 Cal. 782, 794 (1909)).

18 Id. at 29-31.

19 Bates v. Babcock, 95 Cal. 479 (1892).

20 Lasry v. Lederman, 147 Cal. App. 2d 480, 487-88 (1957).

21 James v. Herbert, 149 Cal. App. 2d 741, 748-49 (1957).

22 Kaljian v. Menezes, 36 Cal. App. 4th 573 (1995).

23 Id. at 583-84.

24 Id. at 590.

25 Reeder Lathing Co. v. Allen, 66 Cal. 2d 373, 378-79 (1967); 11 Witkin, Summary of California Law, Equity §§176 et seq. (9th ed. 1988).

26 Civ. Code §1624(a)(1).

27 Ruinello v. Murray, 36 Cal. 2d 687, 689 (1951) (citing Monarco v. LoGreco, 35 Cal. 2d 621, 623-24 (1950), as the basis for the rule).

28 Munoz v. Kaiser Steel Corp., 156 Cal. App. 3d 965, 971-72 (1984)

29 Id. at 972 (quoting Ruinello, 36 Cal. 2d at 689 (emphasis added in Munoz) (citations omitted)).

30 Id. at 972 (citing Pacific Southwest Dev. Corp. v. Western Pac. R.R. Co., 47 Cal. 2d 62, 70 (1956)); Ruinello, 36 Cal. 2d at 689; Monarco, 35 Cal. 2d at 623-24.

31 Munoz, 156 Cal. App. 3d at 972.

32 Seymour v. Oelrichs, 156 Cal. 782, 792 (1909).

33 Id. at 799-800.

34 Id. at 795.

35 Munoz, 156 Cal. App. 3d at 973-74 (citing Alaska Airlines v. Stephenson, 217 F. 2d 295, 298 (9th Cir. 1954)).

36 Id. at 974 (citing Alaska Airlines, 217 F. 2d at 298).

37 Id. at 973-74.

38 Id. at 974.

39 Id. at 977-79. See also Hunter v. Up-Right, Inc., 6 Cal. 4th 1174, 1184 (1993); Lazar v. Superior Court, 12 Cal. 4th 631, 642-43 (1996).

40 Pahl v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 150 F. 3d 1124 (9th Cir. 1998).

41 Id. at 1125.

42 Id. at 1127-28. See Kean v. Commissioner, 469 F. 2d 1183, 1186 (9th Cir. 1972).

43 Pahl, 150 F. 3d at 1130 (citing Monarco v. LoGreco, 35 Cal. 2d 621 (1950)).

44 In re Diego's Inc., 88 F. 3d 775 (9th Cir. 1996).

45 Id. at 777.

46 Id. at 778 (citing Mosekian v. Davis Canning Co., 229 Cal. App. 2d 118 (1964); Moore v. Day, 123 Cal. App. 2d 134 (1954)).

47 Id. at 779 (citing Allied Grape Growers v. Bronco Wine Co., 203 Cal. App. 3d 432, 444 (1988)).

48 Isaac v. A&B Loan Co., 201 Cal. App. 3d 307 (1988).

49 First Nationwide Sav. v. Perry, 11 Cal. App. 4th 1657 (1992).

50 Beach v. Arblaster, 194 Cal. App. 2d 145 (1961).

51 In 1939, the legislature enacted Civ. Code §43.5(d), which provides that there is no cause of action for breach of promise of marriage.

52 Civ. Code §1624, Historical and Statutory Notes, 1998 Legislation.

53 Fam. Code §1610.

54 Fam. Code §1611.

55 Id.

56 See, e.g., Monarco v. LoGreco, 35 Cal. 2d 621, 623 (1950); see also Redke v. Silvertrust, 6 Cal. 3d 94 (1971); Day v. Greene, 59 Cal. 2d 404 (1963); Allied Grape Growers v. Bronco Wine Co., 203 Cal. App. 3d 432 (1988); Mintz v. Rowitz, 13 Cal. App. 3d 216 (1970); In re Diego's Inc., 88 F. 3d 775 (9th Cir. 1996).

57 Whorton v. Dillingham, 202 Cal. App. 3d 447 (1988).

58 Byrne v. Laura, 52 Cal. App. 4th 1054, 1068-69 (1997).

59 Id. at 1068 (quoting Monarco, 35 Cal. 2d at 623).

60 Compare Civ. Code §1624(a)(5) with Prob. Code §150(a).

61 Estate of Housley, 56 Cal. App. 4th 342 (1997).

62 The Housley court also held that equitable estoppel applies to Prob. Code §150 (applicable to oral contracts made after Dec. 31, 1984) as it did to former Civ. Code §1624(6) (applicable to oral contracts made before Dec. 31, 1984). The enactment of Prob. Code §150 did not abrogate the principle of equitable estoppel. Housley, 56 Cal. App. 4th at 354-55.


By reading this article and answering the accompanying test questions, you can earn one CLE credit.

Return to Top


Los Angeles Lawyer
General Information
Online MCLE
Plus: Earn MCLE Credit