Contracts and Assent in the Internet Age

As a society, we’ve had contracts for a pretty long time. Long before emojis…in an age when mankind used actual words to indicate a given emotion state. Ahh the good ol’ days.

Defined by Wikipedia as “a voluntary arrangement between two or more parties that is enforceable at law as a binding legal agreement,” we first see modern laws of contract in the West from the industrial revolution (1750 onwards), when increasing numbers worked in factories for a cash wage.

And as clear cut as you might think them, written contracts are a subject of continued confusion and disagreement. But the Internet Age has added a new twist for electronic contracts which is explored in a new article by Mark Sableman of Thompson Coburn LLP.

To save you some time, here are the main takeaways:

  1. The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) has been adopted by most states and with only a few exceptions, including wills and trusts, this type of signature provides the same result as pen on paper.
  2. Others think of electronic signatures as complex exchanges of encrypted computer files — what is often called a digital signature. An electronic signature can be either of these, or more.
  3. Even an e-mail signature automatically added to the text when you hit “send” can qualify as a signature.
  4. Your name on a text message or instant message may qualify as well.
  5. Determining (and proving) assent (the expression of approval or agreement) is the ultimate job of the courts in any disputes involving electronic signatures

Contracts can be confusing and disputes can and will happen. When they do, call Dean Sperling who will get that matter resolved with YOUR best interests in mind.

More on the case:

Securing assent: The Internet twist of electronic contracts