Section 2 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1989 provides for various formalities to be complied with before a contract for the sale of land is created. Contracts for the sale of land must be in writing, incorporate all terms and be signed by the parties.
In the increasingly hectic world of property transactions where correspondence is frequently sent by email (often composed on a Blackberry or other similar device) these formalities have until now, protected the unwary from unwittingly assuming an obligation to buy or sell property.
Recent comments made in the case of Green –v- Ireland indicate that an email and its reply could create a contract for the sale of land. The Judge considered that the insertion by the parties of their names at the end of the emails effectively amounted to a signature (so complying with section 2).
The Court held that a contract wasn’t created in Green –v- Ireland because the relevant emails didn’t incorporate all of the terms which the parties had agreed. It does however seem that it will only be a matter of time before the Courts identify a contract for the sale of land by email and this case serves as a further warning (following on from the Nicolas Prestige Homes case) of the need for care when corresponding by e mail.
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