Is an E-Signature Legally Binding?

Is an E-Signature Legally Binding By Stephanie J. Rodin, Esq.{2:55 minutes to read} With the increase in business conducted electronically, it is now possible to sign documents electronically. Electronic signatures are accepted on more and more documents, thanks to the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act of 1999. But they are not accepted everywhere, and they are not always equal to a physical, original signature.

Generally, contracts will contain a clause that states it can be signed by the parties to the contract in multiple parts and/or by facsimile, electronically or otherwise.  So, for example, if two parties are signing a contract at separate times and in separate locations, they could send scanned copies of their signatures, and once all signatures are received by all parties, that would be sufficient to bind them in the contract.

For clarity, here are some examples where an issue may arise:

General Releases

With patient disputes, healthcare practitioners often issue a general release signed by the patient, which will state that the practitioner will provide a refund to the patient, in consideration of the patient not filing any alleged claim that they may have against the practitioner or their practice related to the treatment rendered to the patient. However, there are times the patient will contend that it is not their signature on the release.

Employment agreements

In some instances, the healthcare practitioner may send a scanned signature for an employment agreement to their new employer, indicating their acceptance of the position and the terms related thereto. However, if a dispute arises thereafter, the employee may argue that they never fully signed the contract and agreed to all the terms.

As indicated above, there are circumstances in which an issue of fact arises as to whether the signature of the party really is the signature of the person who is alleged to be signing. Although the best evidence is always the original physical signature, there are ways to protect yourself while using an electronic signature.

One way to do this is to have your signature duly notarized. By doing so, you have a better chance of proving that the signature is indeed of the person who signed, as long as it abides by the rules associated with a notary public. This is especially important to make sure the contract is, in fact, binding.

With respect to “e-signatures,” maintaining a receipt after the agreement was e-mailed or faxed to the other party can demonstrate proof of signature, or providing a confirmation of receipt to the party who “e-signed” the agreement to ensure that the party did indeed sign said document can protect you against any potential claims that may arise as a result of the “e-signature.”

Have you ever experienced a dispute about the validity of your signature? Contact me today with questions or comments regarding your e-signature.

Stephanie J. Rodin, Esq.Stephanie J. Rodin, Esq.
Rodin Legal, P.C.
Email: info@rodinlegal.com
Tel: (917) 345-8972
Fax: (917) 591-4428

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