Blood Oath:

Funny AP story about a contract that apparently was indeed written in blood -- but that one party is still challenging as not being binding. Yes, the blood has no legal effect, but I'd have thought it would have had some moral influence on the signatories. Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.

JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Maybe one guy signed in disappearing blood???

Says the "Dog"
5.30.2006 8:22pm
The guy who wrote the contract in his own blood claims that he really didn't mean it to be an absolute guarantee of repayment. That actually seems kind of plausible to me. Most loan contracts have pages upon pages describing the terms. The usual rule in contracts is that there's little harm in spelling in the terms of the contract in excruciating detail. That clearly was not the case here.
5.30.2006 9:30pm
Paul Sherman:
I'm declaring a new rule of contract law: A (voluntary) promise will be legally enforceable if memorialized in the promisor's (voluntarily given) blood, even in the absence of consideration.

Who's with me?
5.30.2006 10:08pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
It seems to me that writing a contract in blood is the strongest binding promise one can make. Sure, not binding in the legal arena, but it must be pretty strong a view if you are willing to write it in blood.....
5.30.2006 10:53pm
18 USC 1030 says: "It seems to me that writing a contract in blood is the strongest binding promise one can make."

I'm not sure on what basis this claim is made. Blood is easily extracted with minimal discomfort. I'd say writing the contract in CSF would be a stronger binding promise. Lumbar punctures are clearly more discomforting and grueling to undergo than a simple venopuncture....

What's that? You can't write a visible contract in CSF? Ah, you must have thought the India Ink prep was only for cryptococcus...

No doubt contracts written in bile are also more of a commitment than contracts written in blood...


5.31.2006 12:40am
This sounds like a good Contract Law hypothetical. "John promises, in exchange for help in finding a wife, to pay Mike $10,000 if he succeeds within 1 year. To show his sincerity, he writes out the contract in his own blood. Part 1: Is there a Statute of Frauds problem?"
5.31.2006 1:26am
davod (mail):
Contracts agreed by a handshake can be considered legally enforceable. Why not a contract written in blood.
5.31.2006 7:35am
AppSocRes (mail):
As a non-lawyer, it seems to me that the circumstances surrounding a contractual agreement have some bearing on the validity of the contract: I assume, e.g., that a contractual agreement involving duress is non-binding on either party. In this case, might not the court take into consideration all the folklore surrounding contracts written in blood, and come to the conclusion that the implied seriousness of intent might override some weakness or lack of clarity in the wording of the contract? I am posing this as a serious legal question by someone with only a limited knowledge of the law.
5.31.2006 9:29am
Eric Jablow (mail):
Would the decision in Scratch vs. Stone be relevant?
5.31.2006 10:07am
Tracy Johnson (www):
Players of the Hackmaster Role-Playing game may want to take note. (It has rules for Blood Oaths and violators lose Honor.)
5.31.2006 10:27am
At least there will be no problems establishing the identity of the promissor, and would eliminate forgery problems. However, if one uses a blood of another to enter into a contract, can that person be prosecuted for identity theft? see 18 U.S.C. 1028.
5.31.2006 10:53am
JosephSlater (mail):
This reminds me of an imaginary article I have in my head: "The Law As It Appears in Pro Wrestling." In one installment of the WWE, a wrestler knocked a rival "unconscious," took his rival's hand, dipped a pen in his rival's "blood," and moved the hand so that the rival "signed" the "contract" in his own blood.

Apparently, in the legal universe of pro wrestling, that was enforceable.
5.31.2006 12:03pm
In agri-law any contract for the sale of a cow which is written in blood, the blood must first be certified as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy free.
5.31.2006 12:59pm
Paul Gowder (mail):
If I can uncharacteristically descend into seriousness for a moment... on the facts of the case, it seems like a jury could reasonably make inferences from the blood signing. As far as I can tell from the news story, the defendant-bleeder is arguing that the contract fails as indefinite/did not express an intent to bind the parties. ("But Khiterer said Son wrote that he would repay to 'the best of my ability[.]'") Presumably, the only reason to write in blood is to give extra assurance to the creditor that the debt would be repaid. That seems like it would be probative either on interpretation of the contract or on an outside fraud claim.
5.31.2006 1:51pm
speedwell (mail):
If Darth Vader wrote a contract in blood, what would the legal status of the midichlorians be?
5.31.2006 2:03pm
According to the article, the signatory is weaseling over the repayment being to "the best of my ability", much like a Western Union telegram contract used to promise a best effort at delivery (but in terms that potentially allowed shipment via carrier pigeon or snail back).

Scratch v. Stone doesn't seem over relevant, as there it was agreed in pretrial that there was no doubt of either signature or the deed; here, the validity of the signature is granted, but the terms of the loan deed are in dispute. And, unlike US ex rel. Mayo v. Satan, there does not appear to be question of estoppel from that previous litigation.
5.31.2006 2:49pm
Houston Lawyer:
It should have been an "unbreakable vow".
5.31.2006 3:11pm
Houston Lawyer:
I also thought that contracts signed in blood were for the sole purpose of selling your soul to the Devil. I'm agnostic on who has jurisdiction to rule on the binding nature of such a contract.
5.31.2006 3:13pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Here is the key part of the article, which explains the how and why of the particular medium used for creating the contract:

Son's attorney, Vladimir Khiterer, acknowledges his client wrote out a repayment promise in blood after the pair went to a bar in October 2004 and drank alcohol while discussing their dispute

It must have seemed binding after a few shots, I bet.
5.31.2006 4:22pm