When disputes arise between sellers and purchasers of immovable property regarding the terms and conditions contained in the
deed of sale I am often told by such persons that they didn't understand the legal implications and consequences of the
contract that they signed. Quite often sellers and purchasers even admit that they did not even read through the contract
before signing it. It is not advisable to sign any contract without reading it irrespective of who drew up the contract.
Innocent mistakes and misunderstandings can often lead to errors and inaccuracies when recording the verbal agreement
reached between the parties in the written deed of sale. Even if the deed of sale has been drafted by an attorney
the parties should read through the agreement and ask the attorney to explain the legal implications of each clause to
them to ensure that they are satisfied with and understand the terms and conditions of the contract they are signing.
In terms of the Estate Agents Code of Conduct agents are required to explain the meaning and consequences of the terms
and conditions of the contract to both the seller and purchaser before such parties sign the deed of sale.
The general principle applicable to written contracts is that the parties are deemed to know and understand what they have signed.
If there is a dispute between the parties to a written contract and the matter goes to court the court will, as a general rule,
look only at the wording of the contract when making a ruling regarding the rights and obligations of the parties arising from
the contract. As a general rule no evidence outside written contracts will be allowed regarding the terms and conditions
which were agreed upon between the parties when they entered into the contract. For this reason it is essential to include
in the written contract everything that has been agreed upon between the parties to the contract. I often hear sellers or
purchasers claim that there was some verbal agreement relating to the sale of the property which was not included in the contract.
This practise leads to endless disputes and furthermore it is, as indicated above, extremely unlikely that the parties alleging
the verbal agreement will be able to prove it.