Signing authority is concerned with who can sign legally enforceable contracts and agreements.
“Legally enforceable” means that, should one party fail to live up to its obligations, the other party(ies) may seek a remedy in a court of law.
Some agreements are not legally enforceable, meaning that they state the parties’ intentions, but the failure to carry through on these intentions does not create a legal liability (such as the obligation to pay for the damages caused by the failure).
Whether a document is legally enforceable depends on the content of the document. The document’s title gives a clue, but is not determinative. For example, Memoranda of Understanding, and Letters of Intent are usually intended to be not legally enforceable, but frequently contain certain provisions that are legally enforceable, such as confidentiality and non-disclosure provisions.
It is important to note that agreements that are not legally enforceable are nonetheless important and must only be entered into with proper due diligence and consideration of all of the relevant circumstances. Breaching a not legally binding agreement may result in adverse consequences to the University, such as reputational damage. Therefore careful consideration must be given to who must first approve such an agreement; and it may be that the appropriate signatories should nonetheless be those identified in UBC’s signing resolutions.