A distributorship agreement for the sale of newspapers for a price greater than five hundred dollars was within the statute of frauds. Omaha World-Herald Co. v. Nielsen, 220 Neb. 294, 369 N.W.2d 631 (1985).
Modification of a sales contract may be made without consideration. Farmland Service Coop., Inc. v. Jack, 196 Neb. 263, 242 N.W.2d 624 (1976).
Prior Uniform Statutory Provision: Subsection (1) — Compare section 1, Uniform Written Obligations Act; subsections (2) to (5) — none.
Purposes of Changes and New Matter:
1. This section seeks to protect and make effective all necessary and desirable modifications of sales contracts without regard to the technicalities which at present hamper such adjustments.
2. Subsection (1) provides that an agreement modifying a sales contract needs no consideration to be binding.
However, modifications made thereunder must meet the test of good faith imposed by the code. The effective use of bad faith to escape performance on the original contract terms is barred, and the extortion of a "modification" without legitimate commercial reason is ineffective as a violation of the duty of good faith. Nor can a mere technical consideration support a modification made in bad faith.
The test of "good faith" between merchants or as against merchants includes "observance of reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing in the trade" (section 2-103), and may in some situations require an objectively demonstrable reason for seeking a modification. But such matters as a market shift which makes performance come to involve a loss may provide such a reason even though there is no such unforeseen difficulty as would make out a legal excuse from performance under sections 2-615 and 2-616.
3. Subsections (2) and (3) are intended to protect against false allegations of oral modifications. "Modification or rescission" includes abandonment or other change by mutual consent, contrary to the decision in Green v. Doniger, 300 N.Y. 238, 90 N.E.2d 56 (1949); it does not include unilateral "termination" or "cancellation" as defined in section 2-106.
The statute of frauds provisions of this article are expressly applied to modifications by subsection (3). Under those provisions the "delivery and acceptance" test is limited to the goods which have been accepted, that is, to the past. "Modification" for the future cannot therefor be conjured up by oral testimony if the price involved is $500.00 or more since such modification must be shown at least by an authenticated memo. And since a memo is limited in its effect to the quantity of goods set forth in it there is safeguard against oral evidence.
Subsection (2) permits the parties in effect to make their own statute of frauds as regards any future modification of the contract by giving effect to a clause in a signed agreement which expressly requires any modification to be by signed writing. But note that if a consumer is to be held to such a clause on a form supplied by a merchant it must be separately signed.
4. Subsection (4) is intended, despite the provisions of subsections (2) and (3), to prevent contractual provisions excluding modification except by a signed writing from limiting in other respects the legal effect of the parties' actual later conduct. The effect of such conduct as a waiver is further regulated in subsection (5).
Point 1: Section 1-203.
Point 2: Sections 1-201, 1-203, 2-615, and 2-616.
Point 3: Sections 2-106, 2-201, and 2-202.
Point 4: Sections 2-202 and 2-208.
Definitional Cross References:
"Agreement". Section 1-201.
"Between merchants". Section 2-104.
"Contract". Section 1-201.
"Notification". Section 1-201.
"Signed". Section 1-201.
"Term". Section 1-201.
"Writing". Section 1-201.