Electronic Acceptance of the Offer to Purchase

Private Property South Africa
Karien Hunter

Gone are the days of the parties to a sale agreement sitting around the dining table or board room, sipping tea and completing and signing an agreement – these days communication through various electronic mediums is the order of the day.

But one has to ask whether communication and negotiation, and specifically, acceptance of an offer to purchase through such a method is valid and binding?

Case Study:

In a recent case Jafta v Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife(2008) JOL 22096 (LC), the court found that;

"An sms is as effective a mode of communication as an e-mail or a written document."

The Statute referred to in the above case is the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (The Act) and the case revolved around the acceptance of an offer of employment.

This does not mean that agreements for the sale of land or immovable property can now be concluded by means of an sms communication or other electronic communication, as the Act specifically excludes sale agreements of land and immovable property in its application. An offer to purchase land or immovable property must still be recorded in writing and signed by both parties in order to be valid.

There is, however, a further obligation on a party accepting an offer to purchase to communicate such acceptance to the other party. It is quite in order to communicate such acceptance by means of an sms, a verbal communication (for example a phone call) or by means of electronic mail, after the agreement has been properly signed.

Karien Hunter is a respected property lawyer, and the founder of

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