There’s no need to be afraid of signing appointments because of the coronavirus, contracts can also be concluded as distance contracts.
Not so long ago, merchants negotiated contracts orally and concluded them by a handshake. In view of the rapid development of the society and the increased amount and complexity of legal relationships, today relationships between entrepreneurs are largely based on written contracts. Although for most contracts the Slovak legal system does not require the written form, we recommend that for each contractual relationship the agreement is recorded on paper (ideally in cooperation with a lawyer), thus reducing or preventing the risk of future problems. Not to mention the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic, a handshake could cause not only undesirable legal but also health complications.
Written contracts are often concluded in such a way that after the parties have agreed on their content, they meet in person and sign the contract as a sign that they agree with it. However, the abovementioned procedure – a personal meeting – is not recommended at present because of the prevention of coronavirus, so it is good to look for suitable alternatives.
Although the Slovak Civil Code requires for the validity of a contract that it is signed by all parties to the contract, as a rule it is not necessary for the signatures to be on the same document. In practice, this means that if you send the signed draft contract to the other party by e-mail, and the other party agrees to it, signs it and informs you of their acceptance, the contract is validly concluded. The contracting party should then of course return the contract to you with their signature.
You can also use the procedure described above, i.e. the conclusion of a distance contract electronically, if you already have a written contract with your contractual partner and only want to amend it. A written contract can usually only be changed in writing (by means of so-called amendment). If, in view of the Coronavirus pandemic, you agree with your contractual partner on an extension of the due date of the payment or a postponement of the date of delivery of goods or services, you can also do it as a distance contract using modern communication technologies.
However, the above does not automatically apply to all types of contracts. An exception is, for example, a contract for the transfer of real estate, where the Civil Code requires the signatures of all parties to the contract to be on the same document. In this case, it is possible to send the draft agreement to the other party by mail, to use the electronic signature option, or to authorize an attorney for this action.
Our experts will be happy to answer all your questions regarding the conclusion and changes of contractual relations, not only in view of the current COVID-19 pandemic.