This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Under many statutes contracts of public corporations must be made in accordance with certain specified formalities. Under some statutes they must be in writing,1 in which case oral contracts are invalid,2 and oral modifications of written contracts are invalid.3 Under such statute the acceptance of a bid is not a contract as no contract exists until reduced to writing and executed.4 A statute which provides that no contract shall bind the city unless in writing and by order of the council is exclusive, and the requirements of a valid contract are not added to by another section requiring contracts to be countersigned by the finance committee, numbered and registered.5 If a written contract is entered into it is valid, although the statute requires it to be executed in duplicate.6 Under other statutes such contracts must be entered upon the public records, in which case a verbal contract employing a quarantine guard is invalid.7 But where the statute requires a public contract to be recorded after it is entered into, omission so to record it. not being the fault of the contractor does not invalidate it.8 So if a mandatory statute requires an ordinance, a contract cannot be made by resolution ;9 though otherwise it may be made by resolution,10 or on motion.11 If the statute requires the yea and nay vote of the council to be taken and entered on the record on the passage of a resolution to accept a bid for bonds, an acceptance of such a bid without such formality is invalid.12 Where the statute requires the purpose for which a bond is issued to appear on its face, it is sufficient if they purport to be "refunding bonds," to "extend the time of payment" of certain debts.13 Where the statute requires the superintendent of streets to fix the date of beginning work within fifteen days from the date of the contract, it is not necessary that the exact date be fixed, if a time within the limit is indicated ;14 and the date may be fixed in the contract.15
5 French v. Milville, 67 N. J. L. 349; 51 Atl. 1109; memorandum opinion affirming 66 N. J. L. 392; 49 Atl. 465.
6 Coleman v. Broad River Township, 50 S. C. 321; 27 S. E. 774.
7 Sutherland-Innes Co. v. Evart, 86 Fed. 597; 30 C. C. A. 305.
8 Neale v. Wood Co., 43 W. Va., 90; 27 S. E. 370.
10 Redmon v. Chacey, 7 N. D. 231; 73 N. W. 1081.
1 Times Publishing Co. v. Weath-erby, 139 Cal. 618; 73 Pac. 465; 103
Frick v. Los Angeles, 115 Cal. 512;
47 Pac. 250; Logansport v. Blake-more, 17 Ind. 318; Starkey v. Minneapolis, 19 Minn. 20.3; Aurora Water Co. v. Aurora, 129 Mo. 540; 31 S. W. 946; Savage v. Springfield, 83 Mo. App. 323; Arnott v. Spokane, 6 Wash. 442; 33 Pac. 1063.
2 Smart v. Philadelphia, 205 Pa. St. 329; 54 Atl. 1025.
3 McManus v. Philadelphia, 201 Pa. St. 619; 51 Atl. 320.
4 Mann v. Rochester, 29 Ind. App. 12; 63 N. E. 874.
5 Goodyear Rubber Co. v. Eureka, 135 Cal. 613; 67 Pac. 1043.
6 Saleno v. Neosho, 127 Mo. 627;
48 Am. St. Rep. 653; 27 L. R. A 769; 30 S. W. 190.