Don't Panic! folks - it's not about sale of land
The instant case Neocleous v Rees https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2019/2462.html is about "authenticating intention". Discussion at Law Commission's (current) report: https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/lawcom-prod-storage-11jsxou24uy7q/uploads/2019/09/Electronic-Execution-Report.pdf. (Whether the case applies only to contracts of settlement in litigation, rather than contract generally as it is framed, might be open to argument - but it certainly ain't about sale of land)
The article doesn't explain the history, which lawyers can infer, but without that it makes no sense to a layperson. Ultimately *this* litigation is not about sale of land, but about the validity of a contract to settle *other* litigation about rights of access. Thus... the seller instructs their solicitor to compromise on the basis of the stated terms, the solicitor duly make the offer, the buyer's solicitor accepts it. Then the seller turns around and wants more money. Too late, but hey, why don't we burn our solicitor for doing what we instructed...?... Again, the issue was NOT about the formal contract of sale, which was still in the future, but the contract to settle on the basis of drawing up an contract of sale. So it's a fine point about ordinary contract law and (possibly) dispute resolution and public policy, not sale of land, and the Court is left to clean up a case of "seller's remorse by proxy" by ruling on the fine point, with the seller's hapless ex-adviser caught in the middle. The Court makes the seller's behaviour clear, more brutally than I expected, in two paragraphs:
"...46. It must immediately be identified that there is an unattractive aspect to the position taken by the Defendant. As Mr Tear readily accepted in cross-examination, his client had given him instructions to accept the offer. On the face of it, the Defendant's position appears to involve using a serendipitous technical defect in formality to renege upon a deal reached during the course of litigation where the apparent agreement led to a court hearing being vacated on the assumption that the case had been settled.
47. However, as the Defendant rightly points out, the issue before the court is one of principle and cannot be decided simply on the basis of the court's attitude to the stance taken by the parties...."
No doubt the seller's next move will try to airbrush the history and suing their ex-solicitor for failing to follow their instructions... I hope they get everything they deserve. Meanwhile Mr Tear also deserves our sympathy. We've all had clients like his.