Electronic Signatures

An electronic signature is as good as a written one. Maybe better.

Texas has a law called the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. It provides that parties can make a binding agreement electronically – including through e-mail exchanges – and even sign it that way. There is a similar federal law, called the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce.

The Texas law applies to most transactions, with the exception of wills, codicils and testamentary trusts. It provides that if a law requires a signature, then an electronic signature satisfies the law. A signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.

An electronic signature means an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.

An electronic signature is attributable to a person if it was the act of the person. That can be shown by proving the signature was sent from that person’s email address and that the email address was secured by a unique login. Click-through procedures are considered valid signatures, so care should be taken before this is utilized on a site.

Notaries can use electronic signatures to notarize, acknowledge, or verify someone’s signature. The notary’s signature has to be attached to or logically associated with the signature or record.
Evidence of a record or signature may not be excluded solely because it is in electronic form.

Lawyers have been using electronic signatures for several years. Some courts require that all pleadings be electronically filed. The Texas Supreme Court issued a rule requiring that, by January 1, 2014, all counties with a population over 500,000 must accept court documents through e-filing. This applies to Denton, Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin Counties.