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The Statute of Frauds under the U.C.C. requires certain contracts for the sale of goods to be evidenced by a writing signed by the party against whom enforcement of the contract is sought. Is the agreement in Cohn v. Fisher required to be evidenced by a signed writing? Explain why.

Quick answer:

In Cohn v. Fisher, the purchase of the boat required a written, signed agreement because the sale price was over the minimum of $500. The court ruled that the check memorandum written by Fisher contained the necessary elements to satisfy the requirements of the Statute of Frauds and serve as a binding purchase agreement.

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To help you answer this question, let's review the Cohn v. Fisher case and its outcome. Defendant Donal Fisher orally agreed to purchase a boat from plaintiff Albert Cohn for $4,650. Fisher wrote a check for a down payment of $2,325, and he wrote in the memorandum line on the check “deposit on aux. sloop, D'Arc Wind, full amount $4,650” and then signed the check. However, the deal broke down, and Fisher decided he didn't want the boat. He stopped payment on the check. Cohn sold the boat to another person for only $3,000 and sued Fisher for the remainder of the full price.

The Statute of Frauds requires that all sales over $500 be accompanied by a written, signed contract. Obviously this is applicable in this sale, for the purchase price is well over the minimum requirement. The law states that a check memorandum can count as a written contract if it contains the necessary information, including the contract for sale and the sale price, and if it is signed.

In this case, the court ruled that the memorandum on the check issued by Fisher did satisfy the requirements, for it contains the details of the purchase, i.e., the description of the boat, and the full purchase price of $4,650. The check was also signed by Fisher and freely tuned over to Cohn, who freely accepted it. Thus, the check could serve as the written sales agreement as well as the partial performance of that agreement. It is, the court ruled, enforceable under the law, and the court ordered Fisher to pay Cohn the difference between the full price and the price of the actual sale.

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