We all use emails in our everyday life, both personally and professionally. We send so many emails that we often do not stop to think about the legal implications which our emails may have. An email, the actual text exchange between a sender and receiver, can sometimes be considered a binding contract with serious legal implications.
Recently, an Appeals Court in Texas reversed a lower court and held that even though an email may not be physically “signed” by the sender, the “from” field of an email is a symbol which reasonably satisfies the requirement of a signature under the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA). The court further explained that the act of emailing “expressly allows for automated transactions to satisfy the requirements of contract formation. The very nature of automated transactions requires the mechanisms for the transaction to be established in advance of the actual transactions.”
While using emails as a basis for contract formation remains subject to basic contract law, the legal system continues to evolve to accommodate new technological advances. The differing interpretations of automatic signatures are just one example of the challenges courts face in applying legal principles to new technologies.
Make sure to keep the following tips in mind when sending your next email:
- Messages in email exchanges might be able to be cobbled together to meet the requirements of contract formation.
- A contract might not need to be on physical paper or physically signed to be legally binding.
- It is a good idea to add disclaimer language to your email to ensure that the receiver understands that the message is not intended to be part of a binding contract.
Shub law handles a variety of litigation involving contract breaches. If you or someone you know believes that you entered into a contract that may have been breached by the other party, please contact us for a free consultation at 856-772-7200 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.