The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the way we live and conduct business. Most non-essential businesses have closed their offices and established entirely remote workforces, and many individuals may be in quarantine, which means that “wet” signatures on paper can be highly inconvenient. This reality has focused more attention on electronic formats. In this blog post we examine the landscape of electronic signatures in light of the pandemic and what it will mean for signature requirements going forward. Electronic signatures apply to both agreements entered into online, such as when completing an internet transaction or assenting to a contract via email, as well as paper documents. With businesses wondering under what circumstances electronic signatures are binding, this post briefly lays out what rules businesses need to follow.
The blockchain or “distributed ledger network” was originally conceived as the peer-to-peer technology platform that allows for the transfer of Bitcoin without the need for a trusted intermediary. However, the blockchain protocol is being implemented across many industries and in many applications beyond digital currencies. Of course, there are questions about the enforceability of blockchain-based transactions and related, self-executing “smart contracts.”
Late last month, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2417 into law. This law clarifies some of the enforceability issues associated with the use of blockchain and smart contracts under Arizona law, in particular with respect to transactions relating to the sale of goods, leases, and documents of title governed respectively under UCC Articles 2, 2A and 7.
We have had a number of clients run into issues relating to whether or not an email exchange constituted a binding contract. This issue comes up regularly when informality creeps into negotiations conducted electronically, bringing up the age-old problem that has likely been argued before judges for centuries: one party…