Is e-mails accepting a property sale have RECENTLY been validated?
I understand that e-mails accepting a property sale have RECENTLY been validated as confirmation of a sale. We made an offer to buy a property that was accepted by email but never confirmed in writing and signed. Now there is a dispute as to whether there is a valid contract in place. Previously the Alienation of Land Act stated that “the acceptance” must be in writing. Please could you confirm this change in Case Law as to accepting e-mails and please send through the relevant Case Law references.
The emails that you are talking about were actually discussed in the recent Supreme Court of Appeal case of Spring Forest Trading CC v Wilberry. The case didn’t deal with a sale of property, but rather whether a settlement agreement was validly concluded or not. There is a good article here that will give you more information: http://dommisseattorneys.co.za/amending-agreements-exchange-emails/With regards to the ‘signed’ Accordingly, it is my opinion that since the Alienation of Land Act specifically requires that the sale of any land be reduced to writing and signed by both parties (i.e. the signature is a requirement by operation of law), only an advanced electronic signature in terms of s13(1) would be good enough. If you don’t have that, then you wouldn’t have a properly concluded agreement. More reading: http://www.polity.org.za/article/validly-cancelling-or-amending-an-agreement-via-email-in-spite-of-a-non-variation-clause-2015-02-20This firm argues otherwise, and I think that they are wrong in their interpretation: http://leeuwnermaritz.co.za/can-an-agreement-of-sale-of-land-be-concluded-cancelled-or-amended-via-email/