Are electronic signatures legal in USA?

Since 1999, with the first states Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, the USA has accepted the use of electronic signatures, giving businesses the option to use them when trading.

Legal Model

USA’s legal model is an open one. This means that unlike a tiered model (that see’s Qualified Electronic Signatures as a legitimate form of e-signature), there aren’t any conditions for electronic signature types. And so a QES won’t receive legal status.

Legal Classification

USA operates a Common Law system, which is based on:

  • Judicial decisions are seen as binding
  • Laws aren’t always of a written structure
  • Few provisions are hinted at into the contract, by law
  • Generally, everything is permitted that isn’t expressly prohibited by law

Few provisions are implied into a contract under the common law system – so it’s important to cover all the terms governing the relationship between the parties to a contract in the contract itself. This usually means that contracts are typically longer than one in a civil law country.

Full Summary

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) in 2000 have meant businesses are able to use e-signatures when trading. Both ESIGN and UETA highlight that electronic documents and e-signatures are seen in the same legal standing as traditional ways of completing contracts. Showing that electronic documents and signatures can’t be rejected simply for being electronic.

Disclaimer

The information in the legality guides are for general information purposes only and are not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws governing electronic signature may change quickly, so Signable cannot guarantee that all the information on this site is current or correct. If you have specific legal questions about any of the information on this site, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your area.
Last updated on: January 2020

Further reading.