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E-Mail Contracts: A New ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’

June 3, 2008

E-Mail Contracts: A New ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’

New York Law Journal, May 28, 2008

Historically, contracts were required to literally be “signed, sealed and delivered” in order to be considered legitimate. However, the popularity of the Internet is shaking some things up. Parties are now able to agree to and execute contracts via email. (For an example of such a contract, read the 2005 decision made by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Hostcentric Technologies Inc. v. Republic Thunderbolt, LLC.)

This article goes on to explain other decisions that have addressed the issues of signatures and contract amendments, both of which are being influenced by electronic communications.

“As these recent decisions reflect, e-mail contracting can be an effective way to form an enforceable contract. They can, however, be a boon or curse. E-mail is a casual and speedy form of communications, previously unheard of in the practice of law and which belies its potential legal import.”

Now that email is growing in popularity in the world of contracts, it’s important that the parties remember the issue of authentication. Failing to prove the truthfulness of the documents at hand can lead to a dead end. As simple as it is to alter an email, who’s to say that what you’re presenting to the court is original in its entirety?

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