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.
If the statute of frauds is properly interposed as a defence to a contract which falls within its terms and does not comply with its requirements, such contract is unenforceable.1 No action at law can be maintained to recover damages for its breach,2 nor can a suit in equity be maintained for a breach of such contract.3 Thus, in case of a breach of an oral contract for the sale of realty, the vendee cannot recover the value of the realty.4
By the weight of authority an oral contract within the statute of frauds cannot be used as a defence, where the result of permining such defence will be to enforce such contract.5 Thus, where A sues B in equity to restrain him from practicing medicine in a certain town contrary to a written contract between A and B, made when B sold his practice and good-will to A, E cannot set up the breach of a contemporaneous oral contract between A and B whereby A agreed to buy B's house and lot.6
2 See Sec. 741.
1 Sivell v. Hogan, 119 Ga. 167; 46 6. E. 67; Lyons v. Bass, 108 Ga. 573: 34 S. E. 721; Peck v. Harvesting Co., 196 111. 295; 63 N. E. 731; Jackson v. Myers, 120 Ind. 504; 22 N. E. 90; 23 N. E. 86; Leis v. Potter, - Kan. -; 74 Pac. 622; Town-send v. Hargreaves, 118 Mass. 325; Riddell v. Riddel (Neb.), 97 N. W. 609; Vick v. Vick, 126 N. C. 123; 35 S. E. 257; Reed v. Adams, 172 Pa. St. 127; 33 Atl. 700; Bowen v. Sayles, 23 R. I. 34; 49 Atl. 103; Cleveland v. Evans, 5 S. D. 53; 58 N. W. 8; Lombard Investment Co. v. Carter, 7 Wash. 4; 38 Am. St. Rep. 864; 34 Pac. 209. The statute "does not make an action void but prevents bringing an action for non-performance." Trowbridge v. Weatherbee, 11 All. (Mass.) 361.
2 Peck v. Machine Co., 94 111.
App. 586; Bromley v. Broyles (Ky.), 58 S. W. 984; MeCampbell v. MeCampbell, 5 Litt. (Ky.) 92;
15 Am. Dec. 48; Norton v. Preston, 15 Me. 14; 32 Am. Dec. 128; Hamilton v. Thirston, 93 Md. 213; 48 Atl. 709; Hallett v. Gordon, 122 Mich. 567; 81 N. W. 556; 82 N. W. 827; Lydick v. Holland, 83 Mo. 703; Smith v. Phillips, 69 N. H. 470; 43 Atl. 183; Rutan v. Hinch-man, 30 N. J. L. 255; Baltzen v. Nicolay, 53 N. Y. 467; Jordan v. Furnace Co., 126 N. C. 143; 78 Am. St. Rep. 644; 35 S. E. 247; McCracken v. McCracken, 88 N. C. 272; Hillhouse v. Jennings, 60 S. C. 373; 38 S. E. 599.
3Dunphy v. Ryan, 116 U. S. 491; Andrews Bros. Co. v. Coke Co., 39 Fed. 353; Green v. Groves, 109 Ind. 519; 10 N. E. 401; Bloomfield State Bank v. Miller, 55 Neb. 243; 70 Am. St. Rep. 381; 44 L. R. A. 387; 75 N. W. 569.
4 McDonald v. Maltz, 78 Mich. 685; 44 N. W. 337; Jordan v. Furnace Co., 126 N. C. 143; 78 Am. St. Rep. 644; 35 S. E. 247.
These rules apply, however, only where the oral contract is sought to be enforced and have no application where the contract is pleaded for some other purpose. Thus, where A let B take possession of certain realty under an oral contract of purchase which B subsequently refused to perform, A can show such contract and breach in an action of forcible entry and detainer to recover- such realty, for the possession of showing that B has no right of possession.7 So an oral lease may be shown in order to interrupt an adverse holding of realty by the claimant who accepts the lease.8