Providing Notification: To Fax or Not to Fax? Image

Providing Notification: To Fax or Not to Fax?


Few people would argue with the statement that in the age of smart phones, text messages, Facebook and Twitter, communication has become much more casual, even when communicating about important matters.

We’ve had many posts, articles and advice about electronic documents and signatures. Legally, as of now, in the absence of judicial review, the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is of the opinion they’re acceptable—but what if the contract itself doesn’t allow for electronic acceptance or notification?

The Standard Purchase Contract in use throughout Alberta indicates that, in addition to providing a signed contract in person, the “Contract may be signed and sent by fax and this procedure will be as effective as signing and delivering an original copy.”

It also indicates, under the heading “Representatives/Notice” that: “For the purposes of giving and receiving any Notice, the communication must be in writing and

a) Delivered in person to the other party or its Representative, or

b) Delivered (or faxed) to an address (or fax number) specified below.”

Nowhere in the Standard Purchase Contract does it allow for acceptance (or notification) to come via email, text message or other electronic means not specifically contemplated in the contract. Of course, you can amend standard contracts, but you have to ensure any amendments made are done with the informed, timely consent of all parties.

In recognition of the growth of new electronic means of communication—it begs the question: are you communicating notices in accordance with clauses in the contracts you’re completing? Are you amending the standard contract to allow for other forms of notification?

The legality of any contract you complete may hinge on notification having been properly provided to the parties in accordance with the wording of the contract.

Has your broker made recommendations for clause wording you can use? How are you wording such amendments? How do you ensure your client receives timely advice including the possible implications of the choices they might make?