C. Porter Vaughan, Inc. v. DiLorenzo, Record No. 090110, ___ Va. ___ (February 25, 2010). Although not exactly an employment case, this decision addresses a topic that frequently arises in the employment context: the Statute of Frauds. The Statute of Frauds, loosely speaking, governs whether a contract must be in writing and signed in order to be enforceable, and what is sufficient proof of a contract’s existence. In DiLorenzo, the contract at issue was a real estate brokerage deal between a real estate agency and the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. Vaughan alleged that an oral agreement existed between it and the bishop.
The bishop alleged that such an oral agreement was unenforceable. The Court, however, looked to an unconsummated agreement between the bishop and a potential purchaser of the real estate, which set out the basic terms of the brokerage arrangement between the bishop and the real estate agent. Even though the contract was never completed, and even though the contract was not between the bishop and the real estate agent, the Court found that it was a sufficient memorandum of the oral agreement between the bishop and the agent. Accordingly, the Court held that the Statute of Frauds did not bar the agent’s claim for a commission.