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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

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

Contract Liability

§ 4.06
Key point 4-06. Clergy who sign legal documents in their own name with no indication that they are signing in a representative capacity on behalf of their church may be personally liable on the document.

Whether clergy will be personally liable on contracts they sign depends upon two factors: (1) whether their employing church is disclosed in the contract, and (2) whether they sign in a representative capacity, such as "Rev. John Smith, President." If both elements are observed, generally a minister will not be personally liable for the contract. The church's identity usually is disclosed by listing the church as one of the parties to the contract. Clergy who sign a contract on behalf of a church without disclosing their title or office will not be personally liable if the church is identified in the contract and the circumstances clearly reveal that they signed in an official capacity.[99] ...

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