What determines the legality of an electronic signature?

Electronic documents and signatures are legally binding around the world. An electronic signature, or e-signature, refers to accepting an agreement or contract in electronic form. This type of signature provides the same legal standing as a handwritten signature as long as it adheres to the necessary requirements.

In the United States, there are a number of laws that inform the requirements that make eSignatures legally binding:

  • The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-SIGN) Act (15 U.S.C. §§7001-7031)
  • The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) (7A Pt. 1 U.LA. 211, 211-99 (2002))
  • Additionally many states have adopted some form of the UETA
  • PactSafe's Signature Acceleration Platform has been designed with compliance of these laws in mind.  

What constitutes a legal electronic signature?

If you want your electronically signed contract or document to hold up in court, you must follow a few simple rules.  Use this checklist to ensure your e-signatures are ironclad.

  • Intent to Sign – The signer must show clear intention to sign the document. This intent is shown through the action of somehow drawing their signatures electronically, typing their name or clicking an accept box.
  • Consent to Do Business Electronically Clause – Some portion of the agreement must include a clause that indicates all parties involved are consenting to have the transaction occur electronically.
  • Opt-out Clause – The signer must always have the option to decline signing electronically.  If the signer declines to sign electronically, a physical copy to sign and return must be provided.
  • Associated Record Retention – The agreement must remain accessible to both parties for reference and must be retained in the form in which it was signed. 
  • Signed Copies – Both parties should receive a copy of the signed document for their personal records. A digital file sent via email is acceptable.

When are e-signatures not legally binding?

The law for electronic signatures in most countries calls out certain types of documents for which e-signatures are not appropriate.  Some common documents that are considered exclusions are, powers of attorney, wills and trusts. It’s important to seek legal council identify categories of exclusion in your country.

 


 

About PactSafe:

PactSafe's eSignature Acceleration Platform has been designed with compliance of e-signature laws in mind.

Here are some of the things we do to make sure electronic signatures are legally binding:

Maintain records of acceptance

Records of signer acceptance include the contract itself, proof of authentication measures, a basic signer digital thumbprint, and a time-stamped audit trail of all activity related to a contract and its signers. As soon as a contract is electronically signed using PactSafe, we create a durable, electronic record of the process by which this electronic signature was created.  

Multiple Signer Authentication Options

You should always know, and be able to prove, who is signing your contracts. PactSafe’s signer authentication methods include email, secure links, unique signer codes, and multi-factor authentication (e.g. codes sent via SMS). This is a vital step in asserting the validity of your agreements.

Accessible and Secure Records

All information transferred to and from PactSafe is 256-bit SSL encrypted, including usernames and passwords. Our electronic signature platform is designed to keep data secure and prevent tampering of your contracts, electronic signatures, and electronic records. Additionally, your static files and electronic signature information is encrypted in Amazon's S3 servers, which are housed in an ISO 27001 certified data center.

Version Control

We create a unique record of every contract before any party electronically signs it, and of each revision. Another unique record of the contract is created each time a user signs a new version.

 

Interested in learning more about PactSafe?

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