“Agreement makes law” (Old legal maxim)
Although in our law most verbal contracts are binding, property sale agreements are an exception. They must be in writing and signed by the parties to be valid, the reason being that it greatly reduces the risk of confusion or dispute as to what the buyer and seller have actually agreed.
In practice of course, the buyer’s initial offer is usually in the form of a written document which only becomes an agreement if and when signed in acceptance by the seller. And often that initial offer sparks negotiation, usually over price or other important terms, with the result that sale agreements are frequently amended both before and after signature.
The recent High Court case of;Cooper v Clark (2015/31475)  ZAGPJHC 79 a shows once again how vital it is to ensure that any such amendments have actually been agreed to by both seller and buyer.
An offer “accepted” – or was it?
The law on conditional acceptance
Ordering the seller to refund the balance of the deposit to the buyer, the Court held that –
Avoiding the trap
Make sure that any changes to sale documents correctly reflect your agreement, and that both parties sign or initial them in confirmation. And as always with property transactions, don’t take any chances - sign nothing without your lawyer’s advice!
Jack Crook, Director at DotNews is well known to law firms as the author of LawDotNews since 2005. Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping other small and medium sized professional firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.