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Signing conveyancing transaction contract for clients
Monday 28 March 2011
Can a solicitor sign the contract for sale in a conveyancing transaction on behalf of a client?
The case of Suleman -v- Shahsavari (1989) 2 ALL ER 460 confirmed that a solicitor needs his client's express authority to sign the contract on behalf of the client.
Unless the solicitor holds a valid power of attorney it is recommended that such an authority be obtained from the client in writing, the client previously having been informed of the legal consequences of giving such authority including that the signature implies authority to proceed to exchange, and exchange creates a binding contract.
A solicitor should never sign a contract on behalf of a client without being certain that the client accepts all the terms of the contract.
Particular care should be taken when there are joint purchasers or co-owners involved. It is recommended that express authority is obtained from each party and that the solicitor ensures that each party understands the legal consequences of the authority and accepts the terms of the contract.
Failure to obtain authority may render the solicitor liable in damages for breach of warranty of authority. See The Law Society's Conveyancing Handbook, 17th edition, available from the Law Society’s online bookshop at www.lawsociety.org.uk/bookshop
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