Electronically Signed Documents Hold Up in Court
In the wake of COVID-19, we find ourselves living in an altered world in which conducting virtual business is becoming the norm. Part of this means that we’re leaning on electronic signatures far more heavily than ever before. In order to be legally enforceable, our written agreements must be signed by all parties involved. As such, the State of Florida – and most other states – have implemented the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which imbues electronic signatures with the legal equivalence of a handwritten signature.
According to the Law
The legal enforceability of contracts is guided by the law, and in the State of Florida, the law finds that contracts shall be denied neither effect nor enforceability when such is based solely on electronic execution. If the signer’s intention is to authenticate a contract – or another legal instrument – any symbol or mark will do. A valid signature, in other words, can include any of the following:
- A traditional written signature
- A stamped signature
- A printed signature
- A typed signature
- Initials that stand in for a signature
- A signature that is impressed onto the paper contract in some other way
Further, the UETA finds that an electronic signature can extend beyond symbols alone and can amount to an electronic sound – or can be composed of both symbol and sound. All of these mechanisms of signing a contract are acceptable as long as that signature is attached or logically attends the contract in some other manner, and as long as the participants’ intentions are to execute the contract by signing it.
A Clear Expression of Intent
Ultimately, if the involved parties all agree to use electronic signatures, the electronically signed contract should be enforceable (if it would have been enforceable with a traditional written signature in the first place). There are, however, exceptions, including contracts that involve any of the following:
- Divorce, adoption, or other matters related to family law
- Wills, codicils, and testamentary trusts
- Some components within the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)
Outside of these exceptions, the signer’s intentions related to signing a contract electronically is the key element in determining the validity of that signature. This typically boils down to the court determining whether the individual – at the time that he or she produced the electronic signature – intended for that electronic act to authenticate the contract in question. The final requirement is that the electronic signature – in whatever form – be logically attached to the legal document. As such, all of the following have been deemed acceptable:
- Text messages
Discuss Your Concerns with an Experienced Brandon Family Law Attorney Today
Our lives have been changing in surprising ways, but the law manages to keep up. Whatever your legal concerns, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Carman, Bevington & Finegan P.A., in Brandon are committed to helping you find your best path forward. We’re here for you, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 813-654-3444 for more information today.