Despite the ubiquity of electronic documents and signatures, there is still a lot of confusion about their legality. In this blog, we answer the most frequently asked questions about eSignatures and whether they are legal.

Are eSignatures legal? The short answer is YES!

Thanks to two US laws, the E-Sign Act (2000) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA, 1999), eSignatures are legally enforceable and trusted across the country and have been for over 20 years. They have the same legal validity as handwritten, or “wet,” signatures. Other regions have enacted their own eSignature laws, such as the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation (eIDAS) in the European Union and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada. eSignatures are a reliable and effective way to do business both at home and abroad.

What makes an eSignature legal?

According to the ESIGN Act, electronic signature means an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. eSignatures must have the following features to stand up in court:

  • Authentication: Signers must be authenticated so you can prove they are who they say they are.
  • Consent: Signers must consent to doing business and signing documents electronically.
  • Intent: Signers must demonstrate intent to sign to prove they did not sign unknowingly and weren’t tricked.
  • Paper trail: By this, we mean a digital paper trail, of course! There must be a detailed audit log of all signing session activity, users, clicks, actions, etc. Some solutions might also certify documents using a digital Certificate Authority on the Adobe Approved Trust List to “seal” the document, so you know if anything has been altered.
  • Retention: All signed documents are sent to all parties and stored securely for reference.

Are typed signatures legal?

As long as the aforementioned rules are followed, typed signatures are perfectly legal and enforceable. In fact, you don’t necessarily even need to “sign” anything at all. A simple check box that says, “I Agree” when signing up for a service is considered a type of electronic signature. The simple act of typing your name also helps to demonstrate intent to sign.

What is non-repudiation?

This ten-dollar word refers to a signer being unable to claim at a later date that they didn’t sign a document or record. If a signature is non-repudiable, it means that it is ironclad and can’t be challenged.

Has eSignature validity every been challenged in court?

The validity of eSignatures has been tested many times in court, and by and large, they have been upheld at the state and federal level. In Zakuski v. General American, the electronic process certifying a change in insurance beneficiary was upheld as sufficient for demonstrating intent. In Schrock v. Nomac Drilling, LLC, an employee tried to challenge an eSignature, but his employer’s audit trail showed that the document was electronically signed using the employee’s SSN at a specific location when the former employee was at that same location. The judge ruled that the signature was valid. Other cases include Obi v. Exeter Health Resources, Inc. and Moton v. Maplebear Inc.

With Constellation1 eSign, you can do business and have your documents signed with complete peace of mind. Our eSignature solution is secure, reliable, and allows you to attach non-repudiable signatures to your important documents from anywhere.

Do you have specific questions about how our eSign solution meets the legal requirements for electronic signatures?
Get in touch and our dedicated eSignature team will be happy to answer them for you.

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Disclaimer: The Constellation1 team are not lawyers and this blog post does not constitute legal advice.