Home Contract Legal Signature (Best Definition: All You Need To Know)

Legal Signature (Best Definition: All You Need To Know)

What is a legal signature?

How do you legally sign a binding contract?

What are the important elements that you must know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into our legal dictionary!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What constitutes a signature?

Based on contract law signature rule, a legal signature is a mark or notation placed by a person on a document, contract or legal document to give it a legally binding status.

In other words, a person will use a legal signature to demonstrate his or her acceptance of the terms and conditions outlined in a contract or validate the content of a letter.

So what is an acceptable signature for legal documents?

A document can be legally signed by someone merely by apposing a mark on the document.

In most cases, when people sign, they do it so fast that it looks like someone scribbled something on a piece of paper.

Others will sign their name by neatly writing their name in full clearly and legibly.

No matter how you sign a document, your signature will be binding when you expressed your consent by placing your signature on a document.

The law does not dictate how your signature should like or its shape.

However, signature law requires that the mark you use be the mark you use to express your agreement with the content of what was written on the document.

Is a contract binding without a signature?

Bear in mind, a contract can legally be formed if it is expressed in writing or orally. 

An oral contract will not have a signature on it quite naturally.

As a result, a signature makes a document legally binding and official but it can be proven in court that a contract was formed event without the actual signature.

There are various ways a document may be signed.

The traditional way to sign is to print a document and originally sign it using a pen.

Typically, a person’s original signature is done by writing his or her name, placing a mark or using a stylized signature unique to the person signing.

Signatures generally appear on the signature block or signature page in a contract or at the bottom of a letter.

An alternative option to signing is to sign electronically. 

An electronic signature has the same legal weight as original signatures.

An electronic signature can be made:

  • By typing your name at the bottom of an email
  • By placing an image of your actual signature on a digital document
  • By using a digital signature software to generate a unique signature and reference code
  • Scanning an originally signed piece of paper and sending it by email 

You may also recall not long ago we used to use fax machines!!

Many contracts and documents were signed and exchanged between parties using a fax machine. 

We called such signatures as fax signatures or facsimile signatures. 

Finally, a signature can be legally binding when done by someone else or a third party.

You can appoint someone as your agent or power of attorney to represent you.

A company may have an employee sign on its behalf. 

Based on the signature rule and guidelines, a third party singing when having the apparent authority or express authority to sign can legally bind another person.

What constitutes a legal signature?

Does a signature have to be legible?

A signature is a mark, pattern, writing, shape or any form of a notation unique to a person apposed on a document to show consent.

There are many ways a person can sign a document, namely:

  • Writing their name 
  • The drawing of a symbol
  • Use a special character 
  • A unique handwritten manner of writing one’s name
  • Even literally an “X”
  • Digital signature 

The objective of a signature is to identify a person and demonstrate his or her consent.

What the person signs is not relevant per se.

What’s relevant is that the person uses the same symbol, pattern or mark to validate and sign documents.

Keep in mind, a person’s signature may evolve over the years. 

As a result, if your signature today does not resemble what it used to be ten years ago, it does not make the past documents invalid, unenforceable or non-binding.

What’s important is that when you sign a document, you used that mark or shape to express your consent.

What constitutes a signature?

Many ask: 

  • Is typing your name a legal signature
  • is a printed name a legal signature
  • Does a signature have to be your full name

In the United States and Canada, you can sign a document by physically apposing a mark or writing your full name on a piece of paper or do the same thing digitally.

In fact, electronic signatures (also known as e-signature or e-sign) are as valid and as legally binding as a person’s physical (original) signature.

In fact, under the Electronic Signatures and Global and National Commerce Act of 2000, the law recognizes electronic signatures as a valid and legally binding expression of a person’s consent.

In essence, a document or contract achieves a legally binding status when the person signing it (no matter how) expresses consent. 

How can documents be legally signed

How do you sign a document?

Is a typed signature legally binding?

When you appose your mark on a document showing your consent or approval, you have legally signed a document.

Typically, you’ll sign the document yourself using your unique signature (stylized or cursive) using a pen.

It’s ideal to avoid signing with a pencil so your signature is not erased or tampered with.

You can also sign a document in other ways:

  • A person can sign on behalf of someone else
  • A person can sign on behalf of a legal entity 
  • A person can sign electronically (digital signature)
  • Typing your name on a digital document
  • Scanning a digital image of your actual signature on a digital document
  • Placing a digital signature along with a unique serial code 
  • Clicking an “accept” button on a digital document or e-form 

Takeaways 

So what are legal signatures?

Legal signature:

A legal signature has the following characteristics:

  • It’s a sign, mark, character, symbol or letters written, stylized or drawn and unique to a person
  • The process of signing conveys the expression of consent
  • There are many ways a person can sign a legal document
  • Signatures can be done the traditional way (original signature or wet signature on a piece of paper), by fax, by email, by exchanging a scanned electronic document, on an electronic document or using digital signature platforms
  • Electronic signatures are as legally binding as original signatures 
  • Signature block
  • Signature line
  • Email signature line
  • Wet signature
  • Business email signature
  • In witness whereof 
  • Digital signature 
  • Electronic signature 
  • Typed signature 
Editorial Staff
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer by trade and an entrepreneur by spirit. I specialize in law, business, marketing, and technology (and love it!). I'm an expert SEO and content marketer where I deeply enjoy writing content in highly competitive fields. On this blog, I share my experiences, knowledge, and provide you with golden nuggets of useful information. Enjoy!

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