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What makes an electronic signature legally valid?

Signatures come in all shapes and sizes. Most of them done on a piece of white paper with ink.

In the digital age, we rarely can travel miles just for the sake of signing a piece of paper. We have to have ways that will allow us to create agreements on terms even if we are hundreds if not a thousand miles away.

The basics

A signature is a handwritten depiction of someone’s name to prove identity and intent.

Basically, if you sign a piece of paper, the signature proofs that you really are who you are - and - that you intend to agree on what the terms are.

The problem

How can I do that if the remote party is miles and miles away?

You can already see it coming. If you sit in Prescot and you want to agree with somebody who is in New York, it is highly unlikely that you will travel the distance just for the sake of signing a piece of paper in person.

The solution

Enter electronic signatures.

An electronic signature is the digital representation of a signature represented in data. This electronic signature provides the same legal standing as a handwritten signature.

The fine details

For an electronic signature to be legal, it has to meet the following criteria:

Record retention and Signed copies

The facilitator has to send the signing party a legal copy of the agreement. This isn’t an optional step, this is a requirement.

If a person simply signs something and does not receive the legal contract themselves, the signature is merely an image of a signature - but not a valid signature per se.

Consent to do business electronically

The business has to provide an easy for the user to consent and accept to do business electronically. This is usually done in the form of displaying a message to the user. The message specifies the details and the user must click on “I agree to the terms” and additionally put his signature on the form before he can proceed.

Electronic signatures laws vary heavily from country to country even from state to state and jurisdictions.

How does element form support electronic signatures?

Element form supports electronic signatures by adhering to the above-mentioned points.

This example element form has an electronic signature component that is visible to the user.

The user will need to read and agree to the specified terms and put his handwritten signature on the electronic signature field.

The field digitalizes the signature and saves it along with all the answers the user has given on the form.

The form can also save the IP address of the signing user if required by law.

Conclusion

Electronic signatures are hard to do right. Many forms of electronic signatures you see on the market are nothing more than images of a signature that are not legally valid.

Element Form provides a correct, cost-effective and easy way to gather electronic signatures for your business.

Legal Disclaimer

This guide aims to deliver you an understanding of the general concept rather than the legal aspect of electronic signature. It is advised that you check with your countries laws and your local laws as they can change and require additional rules before something is legally binding.

CEO of Element Form

Signature of the CEO Tags: Electronic Signature, Legally Valid Electronic Signature, How to work with electronic signatures, and Are electronic signatures valid
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