Everyone knows that signing a contract involves a pen and paper, right? Wrong!

Anyone who likes music downloads has doubtless seen the annoying text box containing Apple’s terms and conditions. Like a monkey eager for candy,I did not sign anything! most of us will click “I accept” without a second glance at the terms we are accepting. We may put slightly more thought into ordering from Amazon: I at least want to see how many business days it will take for the product to arrive. However, I doubt many of us peruse the limited warranty and other terms of sale buried in Amazon’s agreement either. But whether we like it or not, clicking “I accept” has the same legal strength as scribbling your signature on the dotted line.

But surely an email or a text message cannot have the same binding effect as a contract, right? Wrong again!

While it may seem counter intuitive, you can sign a contract by typing your name at the bottom of an email. For most legal purposes, a signature is a signature whether it is in pen and ink or letters on a screen. For example, most contracts contain a term requiring any change (or “amendment”) to be in writing and signed by both parties. Let’s say I enter into a remodeling contract with the contractor. The contract, which calls for dark hardwood flooring in my living room, requires any change to be in writing. The contractor emails me to propose that we use light-colored hardwood instead at the same price. I like the idea, so I hit “Reply,” type “I accept—Regards, Jonathan Watts” and hit “Send.” Voila! Under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, we now have a validly amended contract!

This is just a basic overview and is not legal advice specific to your situation. If you would like to speak with Jonathan about your situation, please email him at jcw@eastbaybusinesslawyer.com or call him at 925-217-3255.