What are the signature requirements for contracts?
What are the signature requirements for contracts?

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What are the signature requirements for contracts?
  • What is a signature?
  • Do electronic signatures satisfy the statutory requirement?
  • For further information, see:
  • Must authority to sign on behalf of a party be in writing?
  • Execution by companies

A contract for the sale or other disposition of land, or of any interest in land, is void unless it complies with section 2 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 (LP(MP)A 1989). It must:

  1. be in writing

  2. contain or incorporate all of the terms expressly agreed by the parties, and

  3. be signed by or on behalf of the parties

In Marlbray, a joint contract for the purchase of land was held to be void against one of the parties but nevertheless valid against the other both at common law and under LP(MP)A 1989, s 2. The judgment is helpful in clarifying the analysis of a joint contract and the circumstances in which it will be upheld as enforceable as against only one of the contracting parties. This depends on an objective analysis of whether it was the common intention of the parties that the execution of the contract by one party was, expressly or impliedly, conditional upon another party likewise signing the contract.

Further, the judgment clarifies the law under LP(MP)A 1989, s 2 in circumstances where one of two proposed purchasers under a contract of sale has not given authority for the signature of the contract. Although there was no direct authority on this point, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that in these circumstances LP(MP)A 1989, s 2(3)