Is a contract legally binding without a notary present at the time of the signing?

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Is a contract legally binding without a notary present at the time of the signing?

I bought a used car off someone. They said it was in great condition. It wasn’t. So he lied about the condition. The brakes went out in it along with numerous problems and I’ve only had it a couple months. I owe the guy $1000; I paid $300 already. Do I still have to pay the remaining amount?

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) A notary is irrelevant to a contract--having a notary does not make a contract any more legal or binding, and a contract is legal and binding without one.

2) However, the above said, if the seller made material misrepresentations--that is, important lies, such as about the condition of the car--to induce, or convince, you to sign the contract, those misrepresentations may constitute fraud and render the contract null and void. Therefore, you may be entitled, if he knowingly lied, to return the car and get your money back. If the seller will not do this voluntarily, however, you will have to sue him.


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