Email Signature Sufficient for Binding Property Contract

A contract for the sale of land in Ireland must be evidenced in writing. The situation is similar in the UK where a contract for the sale of land must be signed by, or on behalf of both parties.

An interesting decision has been handed down by the County Court in Manchester where a dispute arose concerning the sale of a piece of land near Lake Windermere.

The proposed purchase of the land saw email correspondence being exchanged between the solicitors for buyer and seller. 

The price of £175,000 was proposed by email by the solicitor for the vendor and this was accepted by the purchaser’s solicitor, by email. Subsequently the vendors decided they wanted £200,000 for the property and their solicitor stated there was no enforceable contract to sell for £175,000 as the terms were not signed by, or on behalf of, both parties.

Manchester Crown Court had to decide whether the email signature block was sufficient to be accepted as a signature by the solicitor for the buyers and decided that the intention with the signature block in the email was to connect the name to the email and bind the contract between the parties.

Accordingly the Court found there was an enforceable contract and the email signature was sufficient to form a contract.