The U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and many countries around the world have enacted laws providing electronic contracts the same legal validity and enforceability of pen-and-paper contracts. Electronic signature is the trusted and secure solution for obtaining electronic signatures that fulfill key requirements of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-SIGN) Act and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws’ Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). The world’s largest companies rely on electronic signature, and users have executed millions of contracts using electronic signature.
“There is a significant movement toward signing legal documents electronically. You can sign legally binding contracts online and even from your phone. With electronic signature you can upload contracts and have them signed in a faster, cheaper, and more secure way than paper documents.” - GP Solo
ShareFile electronic signature capability utilizing RightSignature is designed to address the key requirements of:
The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-SIGN) Act, Pub. L. No. 106-229, 114 Stat. 464 (2000) (15 U.S.C. §§7001-7031); The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), as approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1999 (7A Pt. 1 U.LA. 211, 211-99 (2002)); and many state laws modeled after UETA.
These e-signature laws are intended to encourage the rapid adoption of digital signatures and decrease the use of antiquated paper methods. Under E-SIGN, a contract “may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation.” 15 U.S.C.A. § 7001(a)(2). Similarly, under Section 7(d) of UETA, if a law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law. Furthermore, E-SIGN provides that any state’s law is preempted if and to the extent that it does not comply with UETA or its substantial equivalent. 15 U.S.C.A. § 7002. While these e-signature laws reinforce the validity of many types of electronic agreements, the laws do not cover certain types of documents, such as statutes, regulations, or other rules of laws governing wills, codicils, testamentary trusts, adoption, divorce, or other matters of family law, certain commercial transactions, certain court documents, and certain notices, generally do not affect substantive requirements of otherwise applicable substantive law, and contain requirements for creating enforceable agreements.
Intent to sign
One of the primary criteria for a valid e-signature is whether the e-signature evidences a clear intent by the signatory to sign. Electronic signature’s capture of a real handwritten signature provides evidence of the signer’s intent to execute the document. Furthermore, electronic signature’s second-generation handwritten signature capture technology addresses potential legal issues that may arise with first-generation click-to-sign systems, because handwritten signatures cannot be inadvertently affixed to contracts and uniquely identify a signer whereas click-to-sign buttons can easily be inadvertently clicked and clicked by others who have access to a signer’s computer or smartphone.
Signature associated with document
Under E-SIGN and UETA, a compliant electronic signature must be 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. 15 U.S.C.A. § 7006(5); UETA §2(8). Electronic signature locks down the executed document with the signature record and produces a Signature Certificate that includes the handwritten signature graphic and an auditable activity log. In addition, when you use our drag-and-drop signature boxes, electronic signature places the handwritten signature at the appropriate locations inside the document.
E-SIGN allows electronic documents and records with electronic signatures to comply with statutes, regulations, or other rules of law that require that information relating to a transaction or transactions in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce be provided or made available to a consumer in writing if the consumer has provided affirmative consent to such use and has not withdrawn the consent, and the consumer, prior to consenting, receives a clear and conspicuous statement of certain information and provides certain consents. 15 U.S.C.A. § 7001(c). Electronic signature users may address the E-SIGN disclosure and consent requirements by enabling a Consumer Disclosure Page for each document and requiring other parties to consent to certain terms prior to executing contracts. Electronic signature also allows potential signatories the ability to opt out from receiving or executing electronic contracts.
After signing, electronic signature secures your executed document with a complex hash algorithm to ensure the permanent record is tamper-proof.
Document access and storage
Section 7001(d) of E-SIGN and Section 12(a), (b), (d) and (e) of UETA contain requirements for record-keeping. Contracts executed with electronic signatures are delivered in Portable Document Format to signatories so that they can retain them for the periods prescribed by any applicable statutes of limitations. Electronic signature stores your documents in a secure archive for the duration of the time you maintain a paid account, utilizing the world-class data infrastructure of Amazon Web Services for security and redundancy.
Section 13 of UETA states that evidence of a record or signature may not be excluded from being admissible evidence solely because it is in electronic form. Every document sent through electronic signature includes a detailed audit log, complete with time stamps, identity authentication, and other critical information. Electronic signature can provide a legal foundation to introduce the documents as evidence and have courts enforce them.
Electronic signature employs a proprietary, multivariate identity authentication system. Components include email address validation, biometric signature analysis, IP address capture, and the collection of other identifiers unique to each signing party.
Electronic signature is platform-agnostic. Parties e-sign on any computer, using any web browser, with no downloads and no plug-ins. This technological neutrality gives all recipients an equal opportunity to execute documents without impediment.
This overview of particular e-signature laws is not a comprehensive overview of the requirements of e-signature laws in the United States or other countries, is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal advice.