Can an email be a contract?

Be careful before you press send—

The case involved settlement negotiations that occurred over an email exchange between two attorneys. The attorneys were negotiating a settlement and one of the messages contained a certain dollar amount for settlement. That email contained a standard signature block but did not include the attorney’s typed signature. The other attorney confirmed the agreement.

A trial court ruled that the email exchange did not create a binding agreement because the sender did not type their name in the email message. Previous cases have stated that as well.

But on appeal, a higher court reversed that ruling.

Pressing ‘send’ on an email could be considered a signature, per the appeals court ruling.

The court also ruled that for an email to bind parties, it must summarize all “material” terms of the deal, such as amount to be paid.

Put a standard email disclaimer stating that automatically on every message. But still, even with a disclaimer in place, watch your messaging before you press send

source: NYcourts.gov



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