Home | Cases | Fauzi Elias v George Sahely & Co (Barbados) Ltd


Key information

Privy Council

Compliance with formalities





AustraliaFauzi Elias v George Sahely & Co (Barbados) Ltd

[1983] 1 AC 646



Elias sought specific performance of an oral contract for the sale of land. He alleged the contract had been recorded in two documents

(1) a letter written by his lawyer which contained the material terms (including price) and which asked for a contract to be forwarded for signature, and

(2) a receipt for a deposit relating to the land sent by Sahely’s solicitor. 

First instance

Elias succeeded at first instance

On appeal

Sahely won and appeal

Privy Council

There was an oral contract. 

The receipt and letter be read together thereby satisfying the formality requirements.

To be read together the documents needed to be linked in some way - here, the the receipt needed to refer in some way to the letter. Although it was not possible to link the receipt with the letter without the aid of parol evidence, it was possible to introduce such evidence to identify the document referred to in the receipt. The receipt in this case clearly referred to another transaction and parol evidence could be given to explain the transaction and identify any other document.  The letter was identified in oral evidence as 'evidence of the transaction' (although not the transaction itself) and that was sufficient - the Board noted that the Statute of Frauds was not designed to exclude such evidence:

‘If ... a document signed by the party to be charged refers to a transaction of sale, parol evidence is admissible both to explain the reference and to identify any document relating to it.  Once identified, the document may be placed alongside the signed document.  If the two contain all the terms of a concluded contract, the statute is satisfied.'