Electronic signatures in the US were given clear legal recognition through the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) in 2000. The very first section of the Act makes it clear that a contract or electronic signature ““may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.” This effectively gives the same weight in law to electronic signatures as has been enjoyed by the wet ink version for many years.
The intention of the Law was never to force anybody to use electronic signatures. In fact, there is a requirement for a “Consumer Disclosure” that the signatory has consented to use an electronic format. This is why on Agreeable, before a document is signed, the signer has to explicitly consent to providing their signature electronically.
There are further potential requirements related to a business retaining electronic records. These include that the record:
1) "accurately reflects" the substance of the original record in an unalterable format
When a document is uploaded to Agreeable, we add a certification signature at the beginning of the process, allowing users to only fill in form fields (date, initials, etc) and signature boxes. This ensures that every user can only sign what they see (document contents remain the same and unchanged during the entire signing process).
All documents are converted to the industry standard PDF format. This allows Agreeable to embed within the document a version history (every signature is a version), so from Adobe Reader you can see the version every signer has signed.
2) is "accessible" to people who are entitled to access it
When a user creates a document that document is always accessible to them in their Agreeable account. Whenever somebody signs a document they are sent a copy of the document to their email account.
3) is "in a form that is capable of being accurately reproduced for later reference, whether by transmission, printing or otherwise"
The signed document can be opened from either the user's account or from the version sent to their email account. As the documents are always stored in PDF format they can be opened with any modern Web browser or with the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
4) is retained for the legally required period of time
Signed documents can be stored in Agreeable until deleted by their owner.
Agreeable meets and exceeds all requirements of the ESIGN Act and any document signed on Agreeable is admissible in a US court of law.