Electronic contracts

Electronic contracts are enforceable in the U.S. the same as paper ones. Most states have adopted a Uniform Electronic Act and E-Sign Act to provide uniformity in interpretation and enforceability of the electronic contracts.

 

The law provides that electronic signature has the same effect as an original one. When the law requires an agreement to be in writing in order to be enforceable, electronic record satisfies this requirement. Almost any mark or process intended to express agreement will constitute an electronic signature. It may be typing a name in the bottom of the confirmatory email, filling online forms, clicking through when a person clicks “I accept” on a computer screen. As long as the act can be attributed to a person and a person intended the act to constitute the signature it is considered a valid contract.

 

Not all electronic communication turns out into enforceable agreements. Simple email will not make a legally binding document. All elements of the contract should be present, such as offer, acceptance and consideration.

 

The use of electronic records or signatures must be voluntarily. If a person chooses not to conduct business electronically, it is a good practice to put a disclaimer in the bottom of the email or otherwise put the other party on notice. Also, when a business is required to provide information to a consumer in writing, written records may be utilized only when a company secured informed consent from the recipient.

 

Following documents are excluded from the laws, which govern electronic contracts and therefor will not be enforceable if not executed on paper.

 

·        Will, codicils, trusts

·        Contracts relating to family matters (adoptions, divorces, birth records, etc.)

·        Contracts expressly excluded by the Uniform Commercial Code, which may vary from state to state.

 

The above-referenced laws govern execution and enforceability of electronic contracts in the United States. Nowadays many business transactions are done across the boarder. The laws of other countries should be checked if a company is doing business with their residents.

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