In many instances, yes. Washington adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions ACT (UETA) in 2020. UETA sets forth specific requirements concerning the validity of electronic signatures for transactions related to business, commercial, and governmental matters. Learn of best practices to help ensure your business complies with the law.
What Makes an Electronic Signature Valid in WA?
Washington’s Uniform Electronic Transactions Act is set forth in RCW Chapter 1.80. The law states that a signature cannot be denied its legal effect and enforceability just because it’s in an electronic form. This is provided that four factors are met, including:
- The parties to a document must intend to sign it,
- The parties must consent to conduct business electronically (note that this consent may be written as a clause in the signed document),
- There has to be an audit trail that displays clear signature association (i.e., the history of the signing process), and
- The electronic signature records created for the particular transaction must be capable of retention and accurate reproduction for reference by all parties entitled to retain the contract or document.
In addition to the above factors, an electronic signature has to be attributable to the specific person who is signing the document. The UETA says a signature is attributable to a person if it can be shown that the signature was the act of the purported signer. A signer can use the circumstances surrounding the signature to help make this showing.
Are there Limitations Under the UETA?
Yes. As noted above, the UETA only applies to electronic signatures for transactions related to business, commercial, and governmental matters. The statute does not apply to transactions related to:
- The creation and execution of wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts,
- Adoption, divorce and some other family law matters,
- Some types of powers of attorney, and
- Some types of real estate transfers.
What are a Few Best Practices for Your Business?
The following are some tips to follow to help ensure the electronic signatures in your business agreements are in fact valid and enforceable:
- Ensure the parties to your contract consent to do business electronically,
- Make certain that your contract is related to business, commercial, and/or governmental matters,
- Implement measures to verify the actual identity of the person who is electronically signing your document (e.g., send a verification email to the person regarding the electronic transaction), and
- Store electronic records accurately and in such a way that people can access them.
More questions? Not sure if your employment agreements comply with the UETA?
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