I am not a fan of texting. I am also well aware of the fact that nobody cares about my opinion. However, I am often appalled at the amount of information that I have seen normally prudent people convey in text messages. It is almost as if the convenience and ephemeral nature of the medium somehow makes a person less careful than they would be in ordinary communication.
Therefore, I am not surprised that a Massachusetts court recently found that a string of text messages constituted an enforceable real estate contract between a buyer and a seller. We all remember the Statute of Frauds from law school and the fact that in order to be enforceable, a contract to sell real estate must be in writing. This case, Saint John Holdings, LLC v. Two Electronics, LLC found that the text messages sent between two parties did in fact constitute writings and when taken together formed an enforceable contract.
Although this case deals with real estate the analogies to other areas of contract law are obvious. One needs to be careful when sending text messages (or emails for that matter) regarding any kind of transaction or dispute. Don’t put a statement in writing unless you intend to be bound by it or unless you qualify it accordingly. Now… put down that phone and drive.