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A judge in the United Kingdom has ruled that an automated email signature sent by a lawyer in a dispute over a land deal is legally binding, costing his client around $30,000.
In an email exchange between attorneys, the landowner's lawyer, Daniel Tear, set out the terms for the deal, which included a sale price that was $30,000 lower than the asking price for the boat jetty and a plot of land in Lake Windermere, northwest England.
"Your clients will pay to my client the sum of £175,000 (one hundred and seventy five thousand pounds," the email states, according to The Register.
The other lawyer accepted the deal. Tear later emailed all the parties involved to say the deal had not been finalized by email.
Both sides went to court, with the buyers arguing the inclusion of a name in the email counts as a legal signature.
"The purported signature of the solicitor on behalf of the defendant was by 'automatic' generation of his name, occupation, role and contact details at the foot of an email," wrote Judge Pearce, at Manchester Civil Justice Center.
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He also noted that not all email from Tear included his automated signature. He said the use of "many thanks" in the email showed "an intention to connect the name with the contents of the email."
The land was ordered to be sold for roughly $215,000 instead of the original $245,000 asking price.
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