There’s a good chance that you have signed at least one document or form on your computer, but do you know if it holds up legally? If you have signed a document with a digital signature or plan to you should know if your digital signature will hold up in court.
To answer the question of are electronic signatures legally binding, we have created the following guide. To find out the answer keep reading below.
What Are Electronic Signatures?
Electronic signatures are also known as digital signatures. Any way that you sign a non-printed document can be considered an electronic signature.
Sometimes you will have to use your finger to sign your name and other times your name will be inserted as plain text. There are even cases where you check a box stating you acknowledge a form. All of these are examples of legal signatures that are done electronically.
When it comes to digital signature vs electronic signature there really is no difference. Both of them are when you sign a document online or though a signing platform.
You may be wondering, “Are electronic signatures legally binding?” The answer to this is yes, they all are. To help you understand why these signatures are legal, we have outlined a few reasons below.
Where Are Electronic Signatures Legal?
Currently, in 27 countries electronic signatures are legal. These countries include the United States, China, Russia, Australia, states in the European Union, and Canada.
Keep in mind that laws differ for each country when it comes to electronic signatures. To see what weight they hold you should do your research before signing a non-printed document in your country.
What Makes An Electronic Signature Legally Binding In the United States?
When it comes to the United States, there is an act in a place known as the ESIGN Act that makes all electronic signatures legal. It’s good to know that the ESIGN Act isn’t the only legislation in place to hold digital signatures as legally binding. There is also the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).
Even though they are two different acts, they have the same statutes when it comes to validating electronic signatures. Both of these acts let electronic signatures have the same legal status as traditional pen and paper signatures.
These two laws go hand in hand to help establish that any legally binding document that requires a signature can be done digitally, allow these electronically signed documents to hold up in court, prevent the denial of a document because it’s in an electronic form.
Even Though These Acts Are In Place, There Are Requirements the Document Must Follow
To have a document fall under the protection of either or both acts there is a procedure it must follow. The first credential is that you must show clear intent to sign.
Most electronic signature platforms will make it easy to exit out of the page if you decide that the document isn’t what you want or is incorrect. As long as the platform has a clear exit that you can see, and you continue to sign you have consented.
The second criteria is the consent to do business electronically. This will usually be in a pop-up where you can agree or disagree to continuing to sign digitally.
The next thing required is that a time stamp must be connected to your signature after signing. This will be done automatically by the platform, but if not it could not hold up as a legally binding document.
Your signature must be on the record that you intend to sign. You cannot submit another document that has your signature and time stamp it. If you try to do this then the contract is void.
The last thing required to follow the acts is to give you the option of record retention. After signing you should have the option of saving your document as a PDF or printing it.
What Makes An Electronic Signature Legal?
Overall it depends on what country you’re in first. If you sign a document in a country such as the United States where there are acts in place to make digital signatures legal, then it is.
In addition to the acts, the signer should be easy to identify and link to the signature. The signer must also be the only one to have access to sign the document (usually this is done by giving the singer an encrypted key).
Lastly, the signature must be easy to identify and there should be no tampering with it. If the data has been changed in any way from the original document then the contract will be void.
Do Electronic Signatures Hold Up In Court?
As long as the document’s creator and/or platform used to sign the document follows all ESIGN and UETA regulations it will hold up as a legal document in court. In addition, the signing platform should also follow the criteria above, if it doesn’t it may not be a legally binding contract.
So, Are Electronic Signatures Legally Binding?
There is no difference between electronic and digital signatures and what acts are in place in the United States to make electronic signatures legal. You also know the answer to if these signatures will hold up in court.
Now that you have finished reading this guide you can confidently tell those who ask, “Are electronic signatures legally binding?” the correct answer – yes.
For more information on electronic signature applications please check out our website here.