by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Ratification

§ 10.14
Key point 10-14. Churches may be liable on the basis of "ratification" for the unauthorized act of a minister or other church worker if it is aware of the act and voluntarily affirms it.

A few courts have found churches liable on the basis of "ratification" for the acts of clergy and lay workers. Ratification is "the affirmance by a person of a prior act which did not bind him but which was done or professedly done on his account, whereby the act, as to some or all persons, is given effect as if originally authorized by him."[168] Restatement, Agency 2d § 82. Stated differently, a church can be liable for the unauthorized acts of an employee or volunteer if it ratifies those acts either expressly or by implication. In order to be liable for unauthorized acts on the basis of ratification, a church must have knowledge of all material facts surrounding the acts and voluntarily affirm them. ...

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