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Since the «form approval» process is so common and definitions are not provided for in North Carolina law, local attorneys and their clients may find it useful to define the term, either in a regulation that creates the requirement, or more informally, to clarify the scope or limitations of the scope of the attorney`s review. All rights reserved. This blog post is published by the School of Government and posted online to discuss topics of interest to government officials. This blog post is for educational and informational purposes and may be used for these purposes without permission, indicating its source. The use of this blog post for commercial purposes is prohibited. To browse a complete catalogue of The School of Government`s publications, please visit the School`s website at www.sog.unc.edu or contact the Bookstore, School of Government, BC #3330 Knapp-Sanders Building, UNC Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330; sales@sog.unc.edu by e-mail; Telephone 919.966.4119; or by fax at 919.962.2707. No law or case in North Carolina requires attorney approval of official local government documents. However, some local regulations require it. Examples include the City of Charlotte: «Any order that amends or repeals an order, and any new order, must be proposed in writing and approved by the City Attorney, the Assistant City Attorney, or an Assistant City Attorney.» (Sections 1 to 9; applied in Charlotte Lumber & Mfg. Co. v. City of Charlotte, 242 N.C.

189 (1955)); and the City of Raleigh: «All ordinances, except routine orders, created by the City Clerk on forms approved by council, must be prepared by the City Attorney or have the approval of form and legality» (section 1-1041). Some jurisdictions routinely include attorney consent to forms on official documents, even if there is no local order or charter provision that requires it. Settlement agreements have long ended with a routine notation with which counsel for the respective parties sign under the words «formally approved» or «approved in form and content». When signing the settlement agreement with this sentence, a lawyer generally does not expect to be personally bound by the terms of the settlement agreement. But is it possible that he is bound by such a signature? The California Supreme Court recently answered «yes» in Monster Energy Co. v. Schechter, 7 Cal.5th 781 (2019). The wording itself could indicate that this is a limited permit – a permit in terms of form, not substance. However, the accepted meaning implies a more comprehensive legal examination.

In searching for definitions, I found several state and local laws or policies that require the approval of contracts, deeds, and other instruments as part of the formal enforcement or validation process. The practice is also sometimes required for the validation of documents submitted to a public authority, such as guarantees or acts. Variations in the wording of the approval include «form and sufficiency», «form and substance», «form and content», «form and legality» or, more commonly, simply the approval of the form. Either way, approval seems to mean the lawyer`s determination that the documents meet all legal requirements. The Supreme Court has not ruled that whenever a lawyer approves a settlement agreement in form and content, the lawyer is contractually bound by the substantive terms of the agreement. However, the Court left the door open to this possibility. DISCLAIMER: Due to the generality of this update, the information contained in this document may not be applicable in all situations and should not be implemented without specific legal advice based on certain situations. Admittedly, the Supreme Court has not ruled that a lawyer is personally bound by the substantive terms of the settlement agreement whenever a lawyer approves a settlement agreement in terms of form and content. If the agreement does not contain a provision requiring an obligation to be imposed on the lawyer, approval of the authorization can probably only mean an authorization. However, if the substantive provisions of the agreement impose obligations on the lawyer, his signature may reflect the intention of the parties that he be personally bound.

This possibility raises a question of fact for Trier, which cannot be decided on a pre-litigation application. Lawyers often sign settlement agreements under the words «approved in form» or «approved in form and content.» When signing the settlement agreement, a lawyer cannot expect to be bound by the settlement, but should they? This question was asked yesterday by the California Supreme Court in Monster Energy Co. v. Schechter, Cal. S. Ct. Case No. S251392 (July 11, 2019). So what does the phrase «approved in form and content» really mean? The California Supreme Court ruled that «approved in form and content» is confirmation that «the attorney has read the document, he embodies the agreement of the parties and the attorney sees no obstacle to the signature by his client.» (Citing Freedman v. Brutzkus, 182 Cal.App. 4th place 1065, 1070 (2010)). So many things were discreet, but the court went even further.

The court noted: «The legal question is whether the lawyer`s signature authorizing an agreement on the form and content of his clients` signature legally excludes the conclusion that he also intended to be bound by the agreement. Relying on references to counsel for the parties in the confidentiality provisions of the settlement agreement, the court found that the signing of a lawyer under a document indicating that it had been approved in form and content did not legally exclude a statement of fact that the lawyer intended to be bound by the terms of the document. Although approval covers the legality of the instrument in the broadest sense, it does not include approval of political or discretionary decisions that are the responsibility of the client. In this sense, the approval may be considered departmental, similar to the financial officer`s preliminary audit certificate pursuant to paragraph g.S. 159-28(a). It certifies technical compliance with the law, but does not constitute an endorsement of the purpose, wisdom or necessity of the contract, regulation or any other official document certified in this way. This decision shall be taken by the body or person empowered to conclude the contract. I sometimes get questions about the ubiquitous «approved form» that appears on official documents signed by the local government lawyer. Is this just a typical boilerplate or a legal requirement for a contract, regulation or other official document? And what exactly does it mean when the lawyer approves something as a form? Lawyer`s consent to the form is a common practice for several good reasons. First, the lawyer`s signature requires a request for internal review by the lawyer before important official documents are finalized. Second, it provides external parties, citizens or the courts with the guarantee of the validity and finality of the claim or obligation created on behalf of the local government. As with many other signatures that local governments typically use, the choice is a matter of local discretion, and the legal effect is primarily to provide evidence that the instrument has been reviewed and approved in accordance with local procedures.

For internal purposes, however, such approvals could just as easily be proven by an internal checklist or control sheet. And while for external purposes, using multiple signatures (including approval of the form) can provide security, it can also lead to ambiguity if one or more signatures are not obtained. In such a situation, the absence of these signatures may pose a challenge (or defense) in terms of the validity of the instrument. If local regulations require the consent of the lawyer, it can be argued that his absence invalidates the instrument. (See, however, Transdyn/Cresci JV v. Fahlgren Martin, Inc. v. McGraw, 438 P.E.2d 338, 344-45 (1993). In this case, the settlement agreement contained several provisions to impose confidentiality obligations on the parties and their counsel.

Counsel for the plaintiffs, Schecther, signed the agreement under the note «approved in form and content.» Where the plaintiffs` lawyer allegedly breached these obligations, the defendant sued Schechter and his law firm, among others, for breach of the confidentiality obligations of the agreement.