Legal Memorandum: Doctrine of Partial Performance in OH

Issue: Under Ohio law, does partial performance remove a contract from the statute of frauds?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts
Keywords: Partial performance; Statute of frauds; Promissory estoppel
Jurisdiction: Ohio
Cited Cases: 43 N.E.2d 287; 123 N.E.2d 393; 707 N.E.2d 557; 622 N.E.2d 1093; 646 N.E.2d 552
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2000

Under Ohio law, a contract can be removed from operation of the statute of frauds through one of two doctrines—partial performance or promissory estoppel.  Gunsorek v. Heartland Bank, 124 Ohio App. 3d 735, 740, 707 N.E.2d 557, 560 (1997).  Accord McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Haiman Co. v. First Union Management, Inc., 87 Ohio App. 3d 613, 623, 627, 622 N.E.2d 1093, 1100, 1102 (1993) (a court in equity may bar application of the statute of frauds based on the promissory estoppel doctrine); Hughes v. Oberholtzer, 162 Ohio St. 330, 123 N.E.2d 393, 398 (1954) (courts of equity have long used the partial performance doctrine to prevent wrongful application of the statute of frauds). 

Partial performance as a bar to application of the statute of frauds is an equitable doctrine.  When the parties’ actions in furtherance of the agreement manifest the existence of an agreement, the doctrine holds that it would be unfair for one party to deny that the agreement exists.


Early in the history of the statute of frauds, courts of equity, to prevent the statute being used as a shield by a wrongdoer, evolved the doctrine of part performance to remove a contract from the statute.  The doctrine, like that of quasi contract, is based on equity and is applied in cases where it would be patently inequitable to refuse relief to the plaintiff.


The doctrine of part performance which will take […]


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