Court rules that send email could create a binding contract

Email users should be careful what they write, as the content of email messages could be legally binding, according to a report from the. National Association of Real Estate Agents.

Report cites court case involving settlement negotiations which occurred during an email exchange between two lawyers. One of the emails contained a specific dollar amount for the settlement and a standard signature block without the lawyer’s typed signature. The other lawyer confirmed the deal.

A lower court ruled that the email exchange did not create a binding agreement because the sender had not typed their name in the email.

However, in July, a New York state appeals court overturned that decision.

“This case means that pressing ‘send’ on an email is now potentially equivalent to signing a piece of paper containing the statements in the email,” Joshua Stein, a columnist, said in The report. “A real typed signature is not required.”

The court also ruled that for an email to be binding on the parties, it must summarize all of the “important” terms of the agreement. In this case, that was the amount of money to be paid.

Although many standard email disclaimers state that messages are not intended to create any form of binding agreement, Stein encourages users to be careful with what they send.

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