Can a contract be formed by email? Yes is the simple answer.
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In a 2010 case involving Prestige Homes v Neal, the Court of Appeal decided, amongst things, that an agreement made by email can become binding.
Following a site visit to Mrs Neal, Prestige Homes sent Mrs Neal an email which stated that they would be joint selling agents until 31 December 2006 after which, from 1 January 2007, they would be sole selling agents. The email had attached two sets of agency arrangements for the two time periods. Prestige enquired by email of Mrs Neal's opinion to the email to which she replied 'that's fine, look forward to some viewings'.
The Court of Appeal said that it was irrelevant whether Mrs Neal had read the attachments. It also decided that her email reply couldn't have meant anything else.
The lesson to be learned here is that its important to read anything and everything sent by email. Further, by taking legal advice Mrs Neal might have saved time, stress, court hearings, costs and the award.