The word signatory is ambiguous. Black’s Law Dictionary defines signatory as “A party that signs a document, personally or through an agent, and thereby becomes a party to an agreement.” But it’s also used to mean someone who physically signs a contract, whether as a party or on behalf of party. For example, after “Title” under the contract signature line for an entity one sometimes sees “Authorized Signatory.”

I’m unaware of any instance of this ambiguity resulting in confusion in a contract, but it could result in confusion in general writing, so you might want to take avoiding action. For instance, more often than not in writing MSCD I used “party to a contract” and “person signing a contract” rather than signatory.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.