Gordon Ramsay the well-known chef was held liable on a guarantee his father in law had arranged to have signed for him by using a signature machine.
Ramsay had allowed his father in law to negotiate and arrange the signature of many business deals through use of a signature machine that replicated his signature.One of Ramsay's companies held a lease of property in London which was guaranteed by another Ramsay company and Gordon Ramsay himself.
Ramsay disputed the validity of his personal guarantee arguing he was never informed of it and had not authorised its signature.
The Court held that Ramsay had given a wide authority to his father in law to negotiate his business dealings and the agreement of the personal guarantee fell within the scope of that authority. The use of the signature machine to append Ramsay's signature was an effective means of signature of the guarantee and it was therefore binding.
The case is a reminder that third parties who deal in good faith with agents will be able to enforce agreements concluded with them if they have apparent authority. When authorising an agent to negotiate it is essential to agree discreet boundaries to the scope of authority and make that clear to third parties if necessary.