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Backing Out of a Signed Contract


I entered into a signed contract with a divorcee to purchase her home in Israel. The home is still listed in hers and her ex-husband’s name and she needs to pay the municipality to get it out of his name, as well as pay them a fee for additional building space, in Israel called Hetel Mishbacha. To speed up the process and make her feel better about these fees, which she estimated to be around 40,000, I agreed to pay her 15,000 shekels. We signed the contract, which added a condition that if i take longer than 2 months to get a mortgage from the time the home is strictly in her name, I would be in breach of contract. If either of us back out of the deal at any point from signing and on, we would each be in breach of contract too. Breach of contract is a nearly 200,000 shekel fine (10% of contract price). I made the deposit of 25% and gave that to her attorney at the time of signing. I also paid my attorney for her fees (11,000 NIS) and the realtor his fees (about 30,000 NIS). I also incurred other expenses associated with this deal (purchase tax, engineer, appraisal fee etc) totaling close to 10,000 NIS. In the process of transitioning the title to her name only, which cost her 10,000 NIS, the seller found out that the hetel mishbacha will not be 40,000 but close to 80,000 NIS. . As a result, she has decided to appeal that fee with the municipality, a process which could take months. She has also dangled the possibility of backing out of the deal, unless I agree to pay for some more of it, which I refuse to do. I understand that you can’t “paskin” this as you do not have her side of the story, but my questions, according to the case that I have described, are as follows: 1. If she backs out, do I have hallachic rights to collect the 200,000 fee for breach of contract? In other words, is the contract enforceable in Jewish Law? 2. What hallachic rights do I have relating to recouping from her the costs that I have outlayed already (attorney fees, realtor fees, appraisal, engineer, etc)? 3. Does she get a “mi shepara” for backing out of such a deal? 4. Do we have any hallachic right to force her to pay the 80,000 fee speedily so that we may proceed with the sale, retention of mortgage, etc? The contract never stipulated specifically that she must do it as soon as possible, but this process could take months and what she is doing is highly unethical, I feel. Thank you for your time!


As you say I can just answer what you ask and it could be all wrong based on lack of information. About the 10% it is standard but whether you can collect is another story. Halachically it depends on whether you added a valid clause to deal with asmachta-if you didn’t you prob won’t be able to collect Even in secular court they don’t usually give 10% but the possible damages you could have suffered because of the breach. 2 is a question of garmi-it will depend if she is an onus or she is willingly abrogating and also will depend on what was said prior. I wouldn’t be so fast to say what she is doing is unethical because no one wants to pay 40,000 shekels needlessly so really it all requires much more information.

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