Several electronic signature laws enacted over the last 20 years have helped pave the way for electronic waivers and other digital contracts to be commonly used in place of paper documents. We’ve listed a few of the major laws in the United States and beyond.
- The E-Sign Act: In 2000, the Electronic Signatures in Global and International Commerce Act (known as the "E-Sign Act") came into force. In order to advance e-commerce, the E-Sign Act made e-signatures as valid as handwritten signatures and provides guidelines for their use in commercial transactions. The E-Sign Act controls in the absence of state law or where a state has made changes to the UETA (see below) that conflict with E-Sign. E-Sign Act, 15 U.S.C. § 7001,
- The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA): In 1999, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws adopted the UETA to bring consistency to state laws on electronic signatures by providing a model legal framework for states to follow. Like E-Sign, the UETA makes electronic signatures as valid as handwritten signatures. Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have adopted the UETA into their laws. While Illinois, New York and Washington, have not adopted the model law, they have their own laws pertaining to electronic signatures.
- International: Many countries have also enacted laws on electronic signatures. For instance, the European Union has a community framework for electronic signatures (directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 on a Community framework for electronic signatures) that various member states have adopted.
Since the E-Sign Act and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) in 1999 and 2000, electronic signatures or “e-signatures” have been upheld in numerous court cases. There is no reason to believe that electronic signatures are any less valid on liability waivers than other types of contracts.