Court admissible audit trails are being used more and more in various industries. By eSigning, companies and individuals have the opportunity to close deals and contracts faster, gather important medical documentation securely and conveniently, and more.
In courts and in the legal community, digital documents and electronic signatures are being used with more frequency. This is an important advancement as the court system must keep up with businesses and individuals increasingly using this electronic format. But with the frequency increasing, and due to the nature of many electronically signed documents, it’s often wondered how legal (and court admissible) electronic documents are.
Below, we’ll take a look at the legality of the use of electronic signatures in court, as well as explore why electronic signature audit trails can prove invaluable.
Are Electronic Signatures Admissible In Court?
In short, yes, electronic signatures are court admissible. In fact, electronic signatures are legally protected in the same manner as traditional wet-ink signatures. That being said, there are certain criteria that must be met when using electronic signatures in order for them to be considered legal and court admissible.
Ensuring Electronic Signatures are Court Admissible
So, what makes an electronic signature court admissible? What do judges look for when determining the legality of a document submitted in court? Here’s a look at some of the key components:
- Security: Proper security protocols, like Foxit eSign’s SOC 2 Type 2 compliance, should be in place to ensure the document is and was protected at all times from improper access or use.
- Authentication: Aspects like signature certificates are important to ensure the signature is verifiable and defensible.
- Auditing: Judges and any parties involved will need to see proof of when a document was created, sent, viewed, signed, and finally where it was stored.
How Are Electronic Signatures Used In Court?
A variety of documents are generally submitted in court as supporting evidence. Signed documents from involved parties can help support claims of ownership, certain agreement stipulations, and that an agreement even happened at all. The use of electronic signatures in the court setting has truly transformed how evidence and proof are submitted and allowed for more precise and detailed documentation.
Here’s a look at some common documents that are often submitted with electronic signatures in court:
- Rental/lease agreements
- Litigation filings
- Business contracts
- Purchase contracts
- Sales receipts
- Acquisition paperwork
- Intent letters
- Financial disclosures
- Partnership agreements
- Employment agreements
It’s important to keep in mind that not all documents are acceptable in court when electronically signed; these documents can include, but are not limited to court orders, wills, family law documents, official court documents, estate documents, foreclosure paperwork, toxic material notices, safety recalls, health insurance benefits termination, and life insurance benefits termination, .
What Are Electronic Signature Audit Trails?
Audit trails are one of the most important components of using electronic signatures in court and what helps keep them court admissible. So, what is an electronic audit trail exactly? Audit trails allow users to see when and where a document was signed and who signed it; this is essential because it helps solidify the validity and authenticity of a digitally signed document.
What Should Be Included In the Trail for Auditing?
- A timestamp indicating when signatures occurred
- Detailed documentation of any changes made, including how, when, and by whom
- The signer’s IP address
- The signer’s name
- The signer’s email address
How to Ensure Court Admissible Electronic Signatures
There are certain best practices that help to support electronic signatures being court admissible and having the correct elements present for their audit trails. Because legality and precision is important when it comes to court-used documentation, it’s generally recommended that the following are present:
- A detailed audit trail that includes signers location, name, IP address, signing date and time, and change documentation
- A clear intent and agreement by the signer to sign electronically
- A stringent digital signature system, including public key infrastructure (PKI) that generates public and private keys; this process ensures the document is encrypted, private, and protected from unlawful tampering
- A second identity verification process, such as 2FA
How Foxit eSign Helps Establish Court Admissable eSignature Audit Trails
Foxit eSign has steadily grown to be a #1 choice in the electronic signature market for establishing and maintaining court admissible audit trails for eSigning. When you use Foxit eSign, you get:
- The assurance that your electronic signatures meet all ESIGN Act and UETA compliance guidelines
- A detailed signature certificate with every signature
- Accurate and detailed audit trails and history that record all changes and updates made during document signing
- Dynamic digital signatures with PKI that ensure the accuracy and validity of every signature
- The assurance that all signatures meet stringent SOC 2 Type 2 compliance
- The option for adding 2FA elements for further signer authenticity and protection
Plus, you have the peace of mind that Foxit eSign’s award-winning customer service is available 24/7 to answer any of your questions and provide assistance when you need it, on your schedule.
Note: This blog post does not constitute legal advice by Foxit eSign nor should it be used as such. To ensure correct and proper legal compliance of any documentation you are creating, using, signing, sending, or receiving please consult with your attorney.