A common question we are asked relates to signatures on documents like agreements, contracts, etc. It seems like there are many opinions and misconceptions on whether or not an electronic signature (e-signature) is as effective as an original document signed (or counter-signed) by both parties. We’d like to help answer some of those questions in this article and provide some clarity for you and your team when handling signed documents.
Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act
E-signatures are a faster and more effective way for parties to sign documents. They are also a more secure way (in most cases) to manage the chain of control from signature to storage. In 2000, the United States legislature approved the ESIGN Act to address e-signature.
The ESIGN Act clarified the following:
- An e-signature has the same legal status as a traditional hand-signed document in the United States
- Any law in the United States requiring a signature can be satisfied with an e-signature
- Documents that have been executed by an e-signature can be presented as evidence in court, the same as a physical signature
- A document executed by an e-signature cannot be denied as being in effect, valid, or enforceable because it was e-signed
ESIGN seems to make sense and shows that e-signatures are as effective as original hand-signed documents.
Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)
UETA was created to provide a uniform way for states to handle laws related to paper record retention and the validity of e-signatures. With the exception of Illinois and New York, all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted UETA. For more information on UETA, please give us a call or check out the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act here.
State Specific and Other Consideration
As new businesses are created around technology, like those that use blockchain technology, states are increasingly considering and passing state-specific laws and guidance. The best course of action here is to consult with an attorney like Daniel Ross if you have any questions as to how they impact your business.
Learn More About E-Signatures v. Original Signed Documents
Do you have any questions about e-signatures v. original signed documents? To schedule a free consultation to discuss how it impacts your business, please call 216-307-5590, or get in touch using our online intake form.
All the best,