It is essential to the validity of certain contracts that they be executed in a particular manner or with prescribed formalities.1 Thus it is sometimes required by statute that certain contracts of municipal corporations shall be entered into only upon sealed bids or proposals made in compliance with duly authorized notice.2 A failure to comply with the statutory provisions invalidates the contract. But if services have been rendered or materials supplied in misreliance upon it, the contractor may seek to recover the value thereof. The case is so closely related to that of a benefit conferred upon a corporation under a contract ultra vires in its nature that they will be treated together in another chapter (post, Sec. 154 et seq.).
1 Also: In re Vince,  2 Q. B. 478, (money lent in reliance upon a contract void for vagueness); Wyman v. Passmore, 1910, 146 la. 486; 125 N. W. 213; 27 L. R. A. (N. S.) 683, (services rendered under an agreement to pay proportion of the expense of caring for one's mother); Stout v. Carruthersville Hardware Co., 1908, 131 Mo. App. 520; 110 S. W. 619, 620-621, (goods sold under a contract that "the price charged would be as cheap as they could be bought anywhere"); Buckley v. Wood, 1902, 67 N. J. L. 583 ; 52 Atl. 564, (earnest money paid in reliance upon a contract for the purchase of land void for uncertainty) ; Jacobson v. Le Grange, 1808, 3 Johns. (N. Y.) 199, (services rendered under a promise "to do by him as his own child "); Bluemner v. Garvin, 1907, 120 App. Div. 29; 104 N. Y. Supp. 1009, (services rendered in reliance upon a contract to give "plaintiff a fair share of defendant's commissions."); Garr v. Cranney, 1902, 25 Utah 193 ; 70 Pac. 853,855, (services rendered in reliance upon a promise "to pay her for all she had ever done or would do for him"); Buck v. Pond, 1905,126 Wis. 382 ; 105 N. W. 909, (services rendered in reliance upon a contract for the sale of land, too indefinite to be enforced). But see Leslie v. Smith, 1875, 32 Mich. 64, (improvements made in reliance on indefinite contract to convey land).
2Taylor v. Brewer, 1813, 1 Maul. & S. 290, 291. See also Henderson Bridge Co. v. McGrath, 1890, 134 U. S. 260; 10 S. Ct. 730; Kirksey v. Kirksey, 1845, 8 Ala. 131; Erwin v. Erwin, 1854, 25 Ala. 236.
Another formality, the omission of which frequently makes contractual rights unavailable, is that of a writing or written memorandum required by the Statute of Frauds. The English statute does not make a writing essential to the validity of contracts within its purview, but merely provides that they shall be proved by written evidence.3 In other words the statute establishes a rule of remedial law only, which is exclusively for the benefit of the parties to the contract, and the effect of which is determinable by the lex fori rather than the lex loci contractus.4 In some of the United States the courts have felt compelled by express legislative declarations to hold that a failure to comply with the requirements of the statute makes a contract void.5 But in most of the States the contract is held not to be void but merely unenforceable.6 Unenforceability for lack of admissible evidence is very different from invalidity, and the quasi contractual obligation which may grow out of contracts within the Statute of Frauds will therefore be separately considered (post, Sec. 93 et seq.).
1 McCaulley v. Jenney, 1875, 5 Houst (Del.) 32, (omission of corporate seal).
2 Zottman v. San Francisco, 1862, 20 Cal. 96; 81 Am. Dec. 96 ; McDonald v. Mayor, 1876, 68 N. Y. 23; 23 Am. Rep. 144.
3 Britain v. Rossiter, 1879, 11 Q. B. D. 123; Maddison v. Alderson, 1883, 8 A. C. 467, 488.
4 Leroux v. Brown, 1852, 12 C. B. 801.
5 Feeney v. Howard, 1889, 79 Cal. 525; 21 Pac. 984; 12 Am. St. Rep. 162; 4 L. R. A. 826; Raub v. Smith, 1886, 61 Mich. 543 ; 28 N. W. 676; 1 Am. St. Rep. 619; Dung v. Parker, 1873, 52 N. Y. 494; Madigan v. Walsh, 1868, 22 Wis. 501.
6 Shakespeare v. Alba, 1884, 76 Ala. 351; Obear v. First Nat. Bank, 1895, 97 Ga. 587; 25 S. E. 335; 33 L. R. A. 384; Wheeler v. Franken-thal, 1875, 78 I11. 124; Schierman v. Beckett, 1882, 88 Ind. 52; Bird v. Munroe, 1877, 66 Me. 337; 22 Am. Rep. 571; Amsinck v. Amer. Ins.