Contracts Under Seal

Early English common law required all contracts to be stamped with a seal before a party could enforce them in court. The seal memorialized the parties’ intention to honor the terms of the contract. No consideration was required, since the seal symbolized a solemn promise undertaken by all parties to the contract.

With the onset of the industrial era during the eighteenth century, however, sealed contracts were increasingly seen as an impractical and inefficient impediment to fast paced commercial relations. Sealed contracts were gradually replaced by other types of agreements, including express and implied contracts. In fact, nearly all jurisdictions have eliminated the legal effect of sealed contracts. Thus, contracts under seal will not generally be enforced unless they are supported by independent consideration.

Inside Contracts Under Seal