Legality of property agent email correspondence

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Dannie Boy
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Legality of property agent email correspondence

Post by Dannie Boy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:39 pm

I know I will have to seek professional advice, but does anybody have any experience of the validity of email correspondence as forming a contract.

I have been working overseas and recently returned to Thailand. While I was away an agent contacted me to say he had somebody interested in buying our house but at quite a bit less than I was looking for. In the end, by email we did agree a price bug when I asked for a deposit the agent said the buyer would pay 100% of the asking price when the deal is done and all the paperwork completed. Upon my return, I have rethought the idea of selling for less than I had agreed by email.

So my question is, do you know if an email agreement is considered legally binding?

Thanks in advance


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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by JohnD » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:08 pm

If you already have an agreement signed by both parties, then the "legality of email correspondence" may be the subject of a contractual clause within that agreement.
Some agreements permit email correspondence, some do not.

If no such signed contractual agreement exists, then I believe there are no repercussions for you.
You could be sued for damages, does not seem relevant here.
The only thing you lose may be related to 'your reputation' - for an unreliable proposal.
Having said the above - I am not an expert - just an opinion!

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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by HHTel » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:44 pm

I think you will find that a contract can be made orally (no signed contract but still legally binding), in writing or via electronic means.
In recent times emails have been accepted by courts more and more.

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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by PeteC » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:10 pm

You need to do some reading as there are articles on-line similar in conclusion as the below. However, no idea what the specific law in Thailand is about all this. Pete :cheers:

http://www.bizlawcenter.com/2012/05/10/ ... -contract/

EDIT: Personal comment...look long and hard at the housing market in Hua Hin for a used single family dwelling as it could sit for a long time before an offer comes in that is more acceptable to you.
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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by Dannie Boy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:41 pm

Thanks to all for the replies so far. I have been to the legal office at the Makro food center outside Hua Hin and was advised that legally, an exchange of emails is not legally binding ( that may be Thailand specific rather than what happens in the UK/US).

I appreciate what you have mentioned Pete but I think I may have fallen out with the Agent big time, so the deal could have fallen through already.





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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by HHTel » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:40 pm

This is just for anyone's information. It should be said that lawyers are not infallible. My high priced lawyer from BKK certainly made some mistakes on points of law in a court case a few years ago. However:
Thailand has established an excellent framework enabling the use of electronic documents for legal purposes. The primary legislation on this topic is the Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) of 2001. Subject to a few narrow exceptions, the ETA takes the general approach that an offer and acceptance may be expressed in the form of a data message, and that a contract shall not be denied legal effect on the sole ground that the offer or acceptance with respect to that contract was made in the form of a data message. The concept of "data messages" includes information generated, sent, received, stored, or processed by electronic means such as electronic data interchange, electronic mail, telegram, telex, or facsimile. So this framework offers considerable latitude and does not explicitly require the use of any particular system.

Regarding documents that must be in writing, a data message is deemed to constitute a written document if the information is accessible and usable for subsequent reference without alteration of its meaning. Similarly, when a signature is actually required on a particular document, the ETA provides it will be deemed signed if the electronic method used is capable of identifying the signatory and indicating the signatory approved the information in the data message as his/her own, and if such method is reliable and appropriate, having regard to the parties' agreement in addition to the surrounding circumstances.
I would guess in this case, the agent/buyer will not go to the trouble of court proceedings. The market is awash with houses for sale.

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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by StevePIraq » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:47 pm

May I suggest if you are not happy with the deal just leave it be and see what develops. If it dies a death then good for you. If they come back insisting on a sale, go see a lawyer.

As for a lawyer, Chavelit & Partners is the one to believe, they do a half hour free consultation so you will get the answer very quick.
Not many lawyers here will go into litigation so be aware.
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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by Dannie Boy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:57 pm

The Agent has threatened me with legal action saying that the buyer has paid something like 350,000 Baht to the lawyers for there services in drawing up the legal contract. This seems like a lot to me but I don’t know what the going rate is?

The ETA referred to by HHTel sounds a bit worrying and not what the legal office next to Makro suggested.




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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by HHTel » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:04 pm

paid something like 350,000 Baht to the lawyers for there services in drawing up the legal contract
I don't believe that for a minute. A few years ago, I went through a messy divorce which required several hearings in court. Land, house and children had to be sorted out by the court. My bill (including court costs) was less than half of that.

SteveP's advice may be valid. Leave it alone and see what develops and face the problem if/when it happens. It may be an empty threat.

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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by hhinner » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:05 pm

Just being cynical, but I wonder if the buyer believes he has paid a deposit but it never got past the lawyer.

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Legality of email correspondence

Post by Dannie Boy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:17 pm

Well based on my investigations and the advice received here, then I agree that to wait and see if anything materializes will be my approach

Many thanks


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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by StevePIraq » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:32 pm

Just a question, is it not normal for the seller to have the contract drawn up not the buyer?

My legal fees for land search and contract drafting was Baht 113,118 including a Usufruct
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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by Dannie Boy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:16 pm

StevePIraq wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:32 pm
Just a question, is it not normal for the seller to have the contract drawn up not the buyer?

My legal fees for land search and contract drafting was Baht 113,118 including a Usufruct
I’m not sure what is “normal” as it’s the first time I’ve been involved in selling a house in Thailand but the figure quoted to me does seem very high as you and others have commented Steve. The fact that the agent said to me that the buyers didn’t want to pay a deposit gave me worries, so I assumed that the email exchange was no more than that, even though I admit agreeing to the lower price than I really wanted. Not being in-country didn’t help so it was probably on the basis of a low sale is better than no sale!!

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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by PET » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:23 pm

It would seem to me that if the buyer had actually paid 350,000 BHT in legal fees it would seriously be in their financial interest to pay a deposit to secure the deal. I do not believe the agent either so stay put and see it go away.
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Re: Legality of email correspondence

Post by J.J.B. » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:18 pm

We had an aborted sale on our house earlier in the year for different reasons than above but with a similar outcome: no deal. We, as the seller, had to pay for the legal contract to be drawn-up with our lawyer (Chavalit) and it was a fixed fee agreement for somewhere between 50-60k Baht. The agent, who is not a lawyer, had convinced the buyer to rely on his experience to draw-up the new land lease, transfer agreement and some other document (can’t remember). We required the same (with Chavalit) when we bought our place six years ago and I think the cost was around 60k Baht.

It is likely your former agent has over-stretched themself with their client and it sounds like a deposit was built-in, possibly non-refundable (we paid a 100k non-refundable deposit when we agreed to buy) that the agent has spent.

One thing that you can be sure of in Thailand is that without a sack-barrow full of paperwork, sprinkled with multiple copies of your passport and signature, no agreement should be considered legally valid!
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