California eSignature Act and Legality

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California became the first state to adopt its legislation regulating electronic signatures within the United States.  Previously, the state had normative acts and regulations governing electronic transactions, but no rules were governing digital signatures when communicating with government organizations.

Uniform eTransaction Act “UETA”

On September 16, 1999, California Governor Gray Davis signed Senate Bill 820, and as a result, the state became the first which adopt the Unified Electronic Transaction Act – “UETA.”

The main purpose of California’s electronic signature act is to equalize the legal force of electronic contracts, records, and signatures with the power of copies on paper.  If the law requires that the signature should be handwritten, or in cases where the law does not specify which signature is needed, the electronic details satisfy these requirements.  “UETA” for electronic signature in California came into force on January 1, 2000.

Features of regulation electronic signature law in California

The law is intended to facilitate the process of electronic document circulation but does not prescribe the use of electronic contracts.  Its provisions come into force only when both parties to the agreement have previously agreed to conduct the transaction in electronic form.

In the standard form of the contract, you have possibility not to indicate that the agreement is carried out with the help of electronic signatures.  The exception is only when the primary purpose of the contract is to authorize an electronic transaction.

If the sender has prohibited printing or storing his record, the electronic signature is not subject to enforcement to the recipient, according to the law.

Exceptions to the California’s law

Some transactions are excluded from the law – their implementation is impossible with the help of an electronic signature:

  • transactions related to testaments or testamentary trust;
  • transactions that directly relate to electronic signatures following sections of the California Commercial Code;
  • certain transactions that are required by law to be signed or signed separately from the record;
  • some transactions governed by various consumer protection laws (for example, notification of overdue mortgage payments, out-of-court notices of foreclosure, reports of financial expenses);
  • any transaction by the Law on Financing Car Sales or the Law on the Licensing of Vehicles;
  • certain transactions in which telephone sellers should make notification of prospective buyers;
  • retail sales by installments following the Unruh Act.

For today, representatives of car dealerships are trying to amend the law, since they cannot sell cars in installments or already used models, offering the buyer an electronic signature.

Evidence in court

With regard to the admissibility of evidence, the Law provides that during a trial, a record or signature cannot be excluded solely because they are presented in electronic form.

The law also provides that if the parties agree to use a security procedure to detect changes or errors, and one party does not use this procedure (and the other party does not detect an error or change), the other party will be able to avoid the effect of an erroneous electronic record.

Finally, the Law of California’s electronic signature contains rules governing the storage of electronic records, and provides that, under certain circumstances, an electronic signature can satisfy the requirements that the signature must be notarized or signed under penalty of perjury.

Potential legal action of the law in California

Although Governor Davis predicted that “California’s high-tech community and consumers law will be largely useful,” transactions conducted electronically must be reviewed by legal counsel for some reasons. For example, it is necessary to introduce procedures and reconsider agreement forms, if needed, to ensure that all electronic contracts comply with the established requirements for confirming errors or changes in the record, as well as printing and storing electronic records.

Some critics argue that California’s legal documents governing the admissibility of evidence of an electronic record or signature may be unconstitutional.  Therefore, both parties to the contract should consider adding provisions that provide the validity of the electronic records’ components.

Sign eDocuments with DigiSigner legal in California

It is possible to carry out the transaction in electronic form, having preliminarily approved this format of documentation with the second party, using the DigiSigner online electronic signature service.

To get started, log in and go to your account.  Here select the “Upload document” and download the required agreement from the device.  You can add it from cloud storage services: Google Drive or Dropbox.

The downloaded document will appear in the list, and you will need to click Sign.  If you want another person to sign first, click Send for Signing.  In this case, you will need to specify where to send the document, and then wait for the following party details.  An already signed document will be located in the “Waiting for Me” folder.  If you sign first, the selected document will be opened.

Scroll it to the place where you need to sign.  On the left, you can immediately choose what type of details to keep.  The same menu will appear, if in the place of the signature to click using the left mouse button.

You can sign with the help of touchpad or mouse, enter details, upload ready-made scans or take a photo on a webcam.  Then you need to click Sign.

The added signature is adjustable in size, and you can also change its position on the sheet.  After you need to click Done or immediately download the document.  You will automatically go to your account, where there will be a “Signed” comment next to the document being signed.

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