This week, TraveLaw Online’s Doug Crozier and Tim Law of Heifetz, Crozier, Law respond to a question about whether a contract needs to be signed in-person or is it alright for it to be signed ‘remotely.’
Q: We’re on the verge of concluding a group booking for (COVID-permitting) mid-2021. The client’s representative doesn’t want to come to the office to sign the contract. If she signs remotely, will the contract be binding?
A: Likely yes. There are a few exceptions but, whether under federal or provincial rules, electronic signatures are now generally accepted as being as valid as “wet” signatures.
An “electronic signature” can include a signed/scanned PDF, or an email signature block, or a signature using a finger or stylus, or an electronic click on a website in confirmation of one’s agreement, etc. By and large, anything will be acceptable if it’s reliable as a means of identifying the “signer”, and it can be linked to the relevant document. An electronic signature does not have to be encrypted in order to be valid.
Whether or not it’s a legal requirement in your jurisdiction, we suggest that you get a copy of the signer’s government-issued photo ID, to help with the verification process.
You’ll also want to be careful if the agreement in question is a consumer contract that is concluded via the Internet. In Ontario for example, the governing statute has specific rules that don’t apply to other contracts; e.g. consumers must be given a chance to accept, modify or decline an Internet-based agreement. A failure to do so allows the consumer to walk away with impunity in the next following seven days.
If you have a question, you can contact Crozier or Law at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with Bob Mowat at Canadian Travel Press/Baxter Media at email@example.com.
Heifetz, Crozier, Law is a Toronto law firm that has for years represented all aspects of the Canadian travel industry. The lawyers at HCL also maintain a non-travel practice, covering litigation, real estate, Wills, corporate/commercial matters, etc. To contact HCL, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.