Do I need an original signature to have an enforceable agreement?
Some weeks ago, we received a question from a client. It was “Do I need to be in possession of an original signature on my contract, change order or release in order to have a valid and binding agreement?” The short answer is, no you don’t.
You have a binding agreement as long as there is a meeting of the minds between you and the other side. The reading document is merely a manifestation of your agreement, but there are other ways parties can show their agreement. It doesn’t always have to be a signature – they can verbally agree or perform to show their agreement. So, if you have a signature. It can be a verbal affirmation; it can also be shown by performance.
In this day age where almost everything is electronic, what can you do to protect yourself?
Getting an original signature is very rare these days as almost everything is electronic. Taking the following step will increase the likelihood that you are protecting yourself since you may not have an original signature.
Make sure you have email correspondence to and from the party with who you are contracting includes the transmission of your document or request for the document and signature. For example, if you are going to request that a contract be signed, send that request with a copy of the contract to the project manager or the president of the company and have them sign it and email it back to you. Doing so has you in possession of not only the document itself that they signed, but in addition, you have correspondence from their e-mail address and through their e-mail address indicating that they signed it. That is a piece of valuable evidence, showing they understood what the document was, its meaning, and the fact that they agreed to what’s in the agreement.