Are electronic signatures (e-signatures) really binding?

Thursday, June 4, 2020

As more and more transactions take place via the Internet, it is important for individuals to understand, and be aware of, the liability that may be associated with electronically signing a document.

Virginia, like many other states, has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“UETA”); see Virginia Code § 59.1-479, et seq. The UETA makes it clear that, with few exceptions, one cannot contest the validity of a contract based solely upon one’s electronic signature. Rather, “if a law requires a signature, or provides for certain consequences in the absence of a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law.” Virginia Code § 59.1-485(d).

Therefore, unless an exception applies to the document in question, it is important to understand that an electronic signature has the same strength and validity as a hard copy signature.

Additionally, not only does an electronic signature bind the signor, but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that by clicking “I Agree” at the end of online terms and conditions agreement, one has electronically signed that document and is bound by its provisions.

By: Attorney Jonathan Gelber