Are Electronically Signed Commercial Contracts Enforceable in Florida?
The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing stay-at-home order and government-mandated business closures across Florida have changed many aspects of our lives. The pandemic has had a major impact on businesses, including how they communicate with their employees and partners and how they sign commercial contracts.
As businesses had to switch to remote working, and Zoom video conferences replaced face-to-face meetings, many business owners in Florida are wondering, “Are commercial contracts valid when signed electronically?”
Business closures, social distancing rules, and other COVID-19 safety regulations make in-person signing problematic. That is why it makes sense to consider signing agreements and contracts electronically. But are commercial contracts valid and enforceable when you sign them electronically?
As the entire world is still trying to adjust to the new realities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital to ensure that your actions are in compliance with Florida state law. It is advised to contact a knowledgeable commercial litigation attorney in Florida to ensure that any contracts you sign and execute electronically are enforceable.
Are Electronically Signed Business Contracts Enforceable in Florida?
Electronic signatures had existed way before the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, electronically signed commercial contracts were commonly used by businesses in Florida and all across the United States years before the pandemic struck.
Florida has its Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which regulates the enforceability of electronic signatures in commercial and other contracts. Under the Florida Statutes Section 668.50, a signature is considered enforceable even when it comes in an electronic form.
Thus, a signature under a commercial contract cannot be denied its legal effect or enforceability solely because the contract was signed electronically. Under the UETA, a contract cannot be deemed unenforceable or invalid merely because “an electronic record was used” when drafting and signing the agreement.
Under the state law, any symbol, an electronic sound, or a process “logically associated with a record” is considered a valid electronic signature as long as the signor had the intent to sign the agreement. For instance, signors can create an electronic version of their signature by using a stencil or finger on a touchscreen.
Are Electronic Contracts Valid in Florida?
While electronic signatures are valid in Florida, parties signing a commercial contract must also consent to move forward with an electronic process. Also, as mentioned earlier, the law requires all parties to a contract to have the intent to sign the agreement.
For Florida courts, an electronic signature in Google Docs documents, emails, or other legally-binding documents is no different from a written signature. Technological advances make it possible to sign commercial contracts electronically, which makes the formation and execution of agreements easier, cheaper, and more efficient.
However, it is still advised to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that the electronic contract meets all the legal requirements to be considered enforceable and valid in the eyes of the law. Contact our West Palm Beach business litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig, LLP, to discuss your particular situation and evaluate the enforceability of an agreement that was signed electronically. Call at 561-291-8298 for a case review.