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Seal

To close records by any type of fastening that must be broken before access can be obtained. An impression upon wax, wafer, or some other substance capable of being impressed.

The use of seals began at a time when writing was not common, but when every person of means possessed a coat-of-arms or other distinctive device. Great significance was attached to the use of seals as a means of distinguishing persons. With the spread of education, the signature on an instrument became more important than the seal, and seals lost their former dignity and importance.

Modern judicial decisions minimize or eliminate the distinctions between sealed and unsealed instruments, and most statutes have abolished the use of seals. Other statutes abolishing the use of private seals do not make sealed instruments unlawful, but merely render the seals ineffective. In jurisdictions that still recognize the use of seals, the seal can assume the form of a wax impression, an impression made on paper, or a gummed sticker attached to the document. The letters L.S., an abbreviation for the Latin phrase locus sigilli, meaning "the place of the seal," can also be used in place of a material seal, as can the word seal or a statement to the effect that the document is to take effect as a sealed instrument.

Seals are currently used for authenticating documents, such as birth and marriage records and deeds to real property. They are also used to authenticate signatures witnessed by a Notary Public and in formalizing corporate documents.

In regard to contracts, at Common Law a promise under seal was enforceable without the necessity of legal consideration—something of value—either because the seal was a substitute for consideration or because the existence of consideration was conclusively presumed. Although most states have abolished seals, some states have provided by statute that a seal raises a presumption of consideration. Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)—a body of law adopted by the states to govern commercial transactions—has eliminated the seal as consideration in commercial sales to which the act is applicable. At one time, the statute of limitations—the prescribed period during which legal proceedings must be instituted—was longer for an action brought on a contract under seal than for one not under seal.

seal

n. a device which creates an impression upon paper or melted wax, used by government agencies, corporations and notaries public to show that the document is validly executed, acknowledged or witnessed, since the seal is unique to the sealer. Corporate seals state the name, date, and state of incorporation. Notaries increasingly use a rubber stamp instead of a seal since their print is easier to microfilm for official recording than is a faint embossed impression. Contracts used to be "sealed," but that is rare today.

seal

(Close), verb bar, block off, bolt, close up, cover, keep from public view, keep in confidence, keep in secrecy, lock, occlude, secret, secure
Associated concepts: sealed case, sealed grand jury report, sealed indictment, sealed instrument, sealed verdict

seal

(Solemnize), verb accept, accredit, approve, attest, authenticate, authorize, bear witness, certify, confirm, endorse, enstamp, impress with mark, imprint, inscribe, license, ratify, sanction, sign, stamp, substantiate, support, undersign, validate, verify, vouch
See also: bar, brand, complete, conclude, confirm, confirmation, decide, determine, fix, hinder, lock, mark, notarize, occlude, permission, sanction, settle, shut, sign, stamp, subscribe, symbol, validate

seal

a formal mark impressed by a person on deeds. Originally, all documents executed by a company had to have the company seal attached; this is no longer necessary since the Companies Act 1989. Before the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989, deeds in English law were validly executed only if they were ‘signed, sealed and delivered’. Sealing is no longer a requirement.

SEAL, conveyancing, contracts. A seal is an impression upon wax, wafer, or some other tenacious substance capable of being impressed. 5 Johns. R. 239. Lord Coke defines a seal to be wax, with an impression. 3 Inst. 169. "Sigillum," says he, "est cera impressa, quia cera sine impressione non est sigillum." This is the common law definition of a seal. Perk. 129, 134; Bro. tit. Faits, 17, 30; 2 Leon 21; 5 John. 239; 2 Caines, R. 362; 21 Pick. R. 417.
     2. But in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the southern and western states generally, the impression upon wax has been disused, and a circular, oval, or square mark, opposite the name of the signer, has the same effect as a seal the shape of it however is indifferent; and it is usually written with a pen. 2 Serg. & Rawle, 503; 1 Dall. 63; 1 Serg. & Rawle, 72; 1 Watts, R. 322; 2 Halst. R. 272.
     3. A notary must use his official seal, to authenticate his official acts, and a scroll will not answer. 4 Blackf. R. 185. As to the effects of a seal, vide Phil. Ev. Index, h.t. Vide, generally, 13 Vin. Ab. 19; 4 Kent, Com. 444; 7 Caines' Cas. 1; Com. Dig. Fait, A 2.
     4. Merlin defines a real to be a plate of metal with a flat surface, on which is engraved the arms of a prince or nation, or private individual or other device, with which an impression may be made on wax or other substance on paper or parchment, in order to authenticate them: the impression thus made is also called a seal. Repert. mot Sceau; 3 McCord's R. 583; 5 Whart. R. 563.
     5. When a seal is affixed to an instrument, it makes it a specialty, (q.v.) and whether the seal be affixed by a corporation or an individual the effect is the same. 15 Wend. 256.
     6. Where an instrument concludes with the words, "witness our hands and seals," and is signed by two persons, with only one seal, the jury may infer, from the face of the paper, that the person who signed last, adopted the seal of the first. 6 Penn. St. Rep. 302. Vide 9 Am Jur. 290-297; 1 Ohio Rep. 368; 3 John. 470. 12 ohu. 76; as to the origin and use of seals, Addis. on Cont. 6; Scroll.
     7. The public seal of a foreign state, proves itself; and public acts, decrees and judgments, exemplified under this seal, are received as true and genuine. 2 Cranch, 187, 238; 4 Dall. 416; 7 Wheat. 273, 335; 1 Denio, 376; 2 Conn. 85, 90; 6 Wend. 475; 9 Mod. 66. But to entitle its seal to such authority, the foreign state must have been acknowledged by the government, within whose jurisdiction the forum is located. 3 Wheat. 610; 9 Ves. 347.

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