This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Whether an oral ratification of an unauthorized signature is sufficient depends, in part, upon the statutory requirements for exception to the general rule that a memorandum made after the contract is sufficient. It is not really an exception, however, but is instead an application of the principle that a signature by one who is then not a duly authorized agent is not of itself sufficient.
11 Bell v. Balls (1897), 1 Ch. 663; Horton v. McCarty, 53 Me. 394; Walker v. Herring, 21 Gratt. (Va.) 678; 8 Am. Rep. 616.
12 Bell v. Balls (1897), 1 Ch. 663. 13 Pike v. Balch. 38 Me. 302; 61
Am. Dec. 248; Gwathney v. Cason, 74 N. C. 5; 21 Am. Rep. 484.
14 Dunham v. Hartman, 153 Mo. 625; 77 Am. St. Rep. 741; 55 S. W.
233. (The sheriff here was not acting officially.)
15 As where made on the following day. White v. Mfg. Co., 179 Mass. 427; 60 N. E. 791.
16 Schmidt v. Quinzel, 55 N. J. Eq. 792; 38 Atl. 665.
17 Shorman v. Brandt. L. R. 6 Q. B. 720; Dunham v. Hartman. 153 Mo.. 625; 77 Am. St. Rep. 741; 55 S. W. 233; Smith v. Arnold, 5 Mason (U. S.) 414; Tull v. David, 45 Mo. 444: 100 Am. Dec. 385.
18 Dunham v. Hartman. 153 Mo. 625; 77 Am. St. Rep. 741; 55 S. W. 233; Tull v. David, 45 Mo. 444; 100 Am. Dec. 385.
19 Bent v. Cobb. 9 Gray (Mass.) 397; 69 Am. Dec. 295.
the original authority of the agent. Putting aside questions of estoppel and performance, ratification requires the same degree of proof as original authority. Hence if the statute requires original authority to be proved by writing an oral ratification by the principal of an unauthorized contract for the sale of land made by his agent,1 is within the statute; even if the agent had written authority with the terms of which he did not comply.2 If original authority may be conferred orally, an oral ratification is sufficient either to enable the ratifying principal to hold the adversary party,3 or to enable the adversary party to hold the ratifying principal.4 If, however, the benefit of the contract entered into by the authorized agent is reserved not to the principal but to another, it has been held that an attempted oral ratification is in effect a promise to pay the debt of another, and hence is unenforceable under the statute.5