Land law is a type of law dealing with the rights of individuals to use or alienate others from a land. The land use agreements are the major intersection of property and contract law on land. Land laws are basic tenets human relationship and survival that they exist even in places where there are no formal rules in place. For example, the claim clubs from the American West instituted as pseudo-governmental entities to control the sale and ownership of land even in the absence of actual governance legislation in place. Ownership of land and its passage from one body to another is an issue that is universally accepted to be controlled by a set of rules and laws. The common law is no different and was instituted to control the right to own property of an individual of which land is an essential part of it. It is the land laws that control land contracts that offer an avenue for the passage of ownership of land from one person to another. A land contract is a written agreement in which the vendor who is the seller accepts to sell, and the buyer accepts to buy the property for a set figure. Therefore, there is a land contract between Stephanie and Wangle since they signed and exchanged the documents that expressed the sale of Sunderland land by Wangle to Stephanie for Â£100,000.
The land contract just as is the case with other forms of the contract has some elements that the parties need to meet for the contract to be legally binding. The features include:
a) Offer and acceptance
It is the first component of a valid contract, whereby one party has to make an offer. To make an offer, there is a need to be more than one party involved that is the one presenting the offer and the parties that receive the offer. The offerer makes it clear on what they are offering so that offeree can have all the information to either take the proposition or leave it. After seeing the land and liking it as an ideal movie shooting site for her next film, Stephanie made an offer to buy the Sunderland land for Â£100,000 from Wangle, the owner. Therefore, the element of an offer existed in the case of Stephanie.
Acceptance comes after an offer is made. The party receiving the offer may accept to form a contract. An acceptance is made when the other person is clear on the offer and what it entails and hence takes it in full without making any adjustments. The offer is accepted verbally and also in writing when it comes to a land contract. Making changes or negotiating on an offer constitutes a counter offer that can either be accepted or rejected by the offerer. Therefore, the offer and the acceptance need to connect. The acceptance must be made within the stipulated time limit of the offer if there was any. Stephanie made an offer to Wangle to purchase the land of which Wangle accepted through signing the contract that they exchanged. The contracts read that Stephanie agreed to buy the Sunderland land for Â£100,000 and the other that Wangle had agreed to the sale.
b) Intention to create legal relations
It is common to have parties make agreements that in promissory nature in that they have no intention to have them legally binding. It is essential that a land contract ensures that it is not a result of a promissory agreement or arrangement not enforceable as a contract under the common law. According to Taylor v Johnson (1983), whether an arrangement is to considered as legally binding is determined by the objective and not a subjective intention of the parties involved. It means that the law is more concerned with the outward manifestations and not the real intentions of the parties. The first rule regarding the enforceability of an agreement is that a social, family, or domestic purposes agreement is not enforceable by law. Secondly, where an arrangement is made for commercial or business purposes, the court presumes that it is legally binding. The third rule is that the first and second rules can be changed or treated otherwise if the parties explicitly add a clause that legally binds them to the contract or otherwise.
Therefore, the arrangement between Stephanie and Wangle is legally binding since is made for commercial or business purposes. Stephanie intends to shoot a movie on the land and even went ahead to pitch some cameras on the land upon its purchase. The contract they have made has also not made any explicit clause that states that the contract is not binding, and hence the common law presumes that they had the intention to make it legally binding hence it is a valid contract.
c) Contracts for sale of land has to be achieved in the form of writing
It is a unique feature of the common law for all land contracts to be in writing and hence cannot be binding if done orally like other contracts. Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989, every land contract has to be in the form of writing. The act states that any contract concerning sale or any other form of expression of interest in land can only be in writing. The terms that the parties have agreed upon also have to be incorporated in the document that is signed and exchanged. The terms of the agreement can be clearly spelled out either in the contract document or have a clause that refers to another document with the terms. The parties involved in the contract must sign the document that has the terms of the agreement. The signature may be by or on behalf of the parties to the agreement.
Stephanie and Wangle made a contract and put it into writing exchanging the documents as per the law of property. They exchanged one document that stated ” ˜I agree to sell Sunderland land to Stephanie for Â£100,000” signed by Wangle as the seller and the other “˜I agree to buy Sunderland land, from Wangle for Â£100,000” signed by the purchaser. However, the document did not spell out any other terms of the agreement as to whether, the sale covered the flying boat or not. Stephanie brought it up later on learning that Wangle intended to sell the flying boat to Javier for Â£500,000. Stephanie had already begun setting up for her movie shooting erecting expensive cameras with the flying boat view. Moreover, Wangle now no longer intends to sell even the land to Stephanie. Stephanie may have a problem in that she did not include the flying boat in the terms of the agreement since the aeroplane acquired separately from the land by Wangle.
There must be an exchange of value between the promisor and promisee in any contract relationship. The consideration that could take the form of money or any other item of value has to exchange to ensure the validity of the contract. The parties in the agreement must lose something of value to each other to seal the deal.
Stephanie paid Â£100,000 to Wangle for the land, which means that there was a consideration in the contract they made. They both gave something of value to each other sealing the contract and making it a valid land contract.
e) Capacity to contract
All the parties getting into any form of agreement must have the legal capacity to contract at the time of making the contract. The parties must be competent, and if any party to the contract is not competent, then the contract is void. According to the common law, minors that are children below the age of 18 cannot get a contract. Insane persons are the second group of individuals that are incompetent to get to a contract. However, the person claiming insanity should have been declared insane before making the deal. Any other party disqualified from contracting by law cannot contract.
Both Wangle and Stephanie are competent to engage in a contract at the time of making the agreement. They are both of sound minds, above the age limit, and none of them has reported being barred from contracting by the court of law and hence making their contract valid.
f) Legality of purpose
The reason to which parties get into a contract must be within the law or must not be contradicting other laws. For example, one may not engage in the sale of a land that does not belong to them or is stolen. The contract must not facilitate engaging in an illegal act by any party. Stephanie intended to shoot a movie in the land, which is lawful and acceptable. Hence, the contract is valid.
Having met all the terms that are necessary to form a binding land contract, Stephanie and Wangle have a valid contract. Stephanie has made the contract, but no money has exchanged hands of yet. It is important that she note that the consideration is yet to be fulfilled and hence may raise an issue if she was to push the case in a court of law. She has made a promise to pay consideration and started acting on the land by erecting the expensive cameras before the actual sale occurs. Moreover, she has not yet received the deed of the land, which means that she is yet to become the full owner of the land since Wangle remains as the registered owner holding the deed. She should, therefore, seek for immediate mediation with Wangle before considering any move to going to a court of law. It is important that Stephanie talks to Wangle so that they can begin a mediation process to review the contract and also to convince Wangle to honor the contract. Stephanie should also be ready to honor her part by paying the agreed sum as consideration.
The provisions of the agreement are not clearly spelled out in the signed contract. It is because, Stephanie may not have done sufficient due diligence to realize that the flying boat was Wangle’s property before he purchased the Sunderland land from the crown. There was a need to include whether the land in reference covered the flying boat as well or not. However, Stephanie may argue that Wangle failed to offer full disclosure on the extent to which the Sunderland land covered. He was aware that the flying boat was one of the key things that enticed Stephanie to take up the deal and yet did not disclose to her that it was not part of the land that he referred to as the Sunderland land. However, under the common law, there is a ‘caveat emptor’ principle whereby the buyer ought to exercise due diligence in finding out material facts regarding the property or land they intend to buy. Therefore, anything that Stephanie did not ask Wangle, then she was not entitled to a disclosure from him. It meant that Stephanie should have inquired about the state of the land and whether it covered the flying boat as well and Wangle was not under any obligation to disclose the information.
Stephanie should consider the option of terminating the contract with Wangle and then sue him for repudiation. It is because; Wangle has threatened not to sell the land to her anymore due to the disagreement regarding the flying boat. Stephanie holds the right to terminate the contract and then sue Wanger for the damages accrued to her because of bringing in her equipment and other damages that she accrued upon acting on the contract.
Stephanie may keep the land when she completes paying the agreed sum since they had made a valid contract to that extent hence Wangle cannot just decide to go back on his word since he accepted the offer. However, she may not hold the right to have the flying boat as well since it was not part of the agreement in the first place though she thought it was included. It was because, the Sunderland land in referred to by the contract was the land that Wangle had acquired from the crown. However, it can be asserted that because flying boat is attached to the land it makes it part of it. Therefore, Stephanie should seek mediation and then arbitration to either renegotiate the initial contract with Wangle and to get a remedy for the potential breach of contract by Wangle when he decides to withhold the land from her. The Arbitration and d mediation may offer Stephanie a chance to get a better deal with Wangle than turning to a court of law that may result in enforcing the contract or nullifying it all together. Moreover, a court of law may prove to be expensive and slow at offering a solution to the stalemate.