The Federal ESIGN Act was passed by Congress and signed into law in the year 2000. Today there are many electronic signature companies that provide their services for a fee.
Sometimes you really need to use these company’s as they offer advanced features like the ability to upload documents, have multiple signing parties, and control over the signing order.
But when you have simple needs, a single signer on a simple web form submission. This might be stating that information submitted on a job application is true, consent to a background check, agreement to terms of service, or another simple contract.
Can you use Gravity Forms for a legally binding signature?
Yes! Absolutely. However, it would probably be best to use GravityPDF to aid in the process. According to the ESIGN and UETA acts, the following must be true in order for an electronic signature to be legally binding:
1. Intent to Sign
This basically means you can’t “trick” the person into signing. The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act discusses “electronic signatures” on Page 9 and says “The idea of a signature is broad and not specifically defined.” It says the “essential attribute” of a signature is the “intent to do a legally significant act.”
2. Implied or Express Consent to Sign Electronically
With Gravity Forms, you can add an HTML disclaimer stating “the signer agrees to sign the document electronically.” Or you could use a check box with the statement “I consent to sign electronically.” check box. This also provides coverage for item #1 “intent to sign” above.
3. Signature Attribution
In order for the signature to be legally binding, you need to be able to attribute the signature to the signer. UETA says this “may be shown in any manner” and comments “so long as the electronic record or electronic signature resulted from a person’s action it will be attributed to that person.” Using these gravity form merge fields, saved on a PDF using Gravity PDF should accomplish signature attribution:
User IP: https://docs.gravityforms.com/ip-merge-tag/
User Email: https://docs.gravityforms.com/email/#h-merge-tags
User Agent: https://docs.gravityforms.com/user_agent-merge-tag/
Entry URL: https://docs.gravityforms.com/entry_url-merge-tag/
4. Record Retention
The E-Sign Act requires electronic records “remain accessible to all persons who are entitled to access…whether by transmission, printing, or otherwise.” This can be accomplished by sending an email notification to the signer and yourself with a copy of the form fields including the signature. You can really go above and beyond here by sending an email with an attached PDF with instructions to download and save the PDF. This can be accomplished with Gravity PDF.
5. Opt-out Clause if Applicable
The ESIGN act requires you to notify the signer of “any right or option to have the record provided or made available on paper or in non-electronic form.”
What agreements can’t be E-Signed?
The intention of this blog post is to cover signatures on simple, single signer agreements only. Anything more complex is going to require the use of a paid signature service. But even then, not all contracts can be e-signed. A few examples are:
- Documents relating to adoption, divorce, and other family law matters
- Some types of real estate transfer documents and other real estate agreements
- Court orders, notices, and other court documents like pleadings and motions
Do Regulations Differ By State?
Sometimes but not always. You should definitely check on your state which you can do here.
How Can WP Harbor Help With Gravity Forms?
WP Harbor clients have full access to Gravity Forms, and all Gravity Forms Addons.
I’m Not An Attorney
It should be noted that I’m not an attorney, and nothing in this post or on our website should be construed as legal advice.