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Church Treasurers' Authority to Sign Contracts

A Massachusetts court recently ruled on this issue.

A Massachusetts appeals court ruled that a church treasurer was without legal authority to sign a real estate sales contract for the sale of church property.

The treasurer (who also was a member of the church board) was the only person to sign the contract on behalf of the church. She signed her name without any reference to her official or representative capacity. The church constitution specified that sales of church property had to be authorized by the church board. However, the board never authorized the sale in question. The church refused to honor the contract, and the buyer filed a lawsuit seeking a court order compelling the church to comply.

A trial court ruled in favor of the church, and the buyer appealed. The appeals court affirmed the trial court's decision on the basis of two considerations. First, the buyer had been negligent in not making a sufficient inquiry into the authority ...

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Posted:
  • May 1, 1991

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