Can a binding contract for a sale of land arise without the signature of a co-owner?

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Klein v McMahon [2017] NSWSC 1531 concerned the sale of land held by a husband and wife couple who were co-owners. The husband did not sign the contract for the sale. Instead the wife signed the contract personally as well as for her husband. The Court determined that the contract was legally enforceable since the wife was acting for her husband as his agent. This was supported by the circumstances including:

  • The front page of the contract listed the wife as the Vendor’s Representative
  • They previously discussed and agreed to the sale
  • The husband customarily allowed his wife to handle his finances
  • The husband suspected a contract had been entered into and so must have known he would be a party to it

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