An email contract can be an enforceable agreement even if it is not printed out on paper. If you think that you do not have a legal leg to stand on because your contract was done via email, think again. In almost all circumstances, your agreement will be considered enforceable even if it was done through email.

Are Emails Legally Binding as Contracts?

When you think of a contract, you probable picture an agreement between two or more parties that is written and signed on paper to ensure it is enforceable. Today, many contracts are not written at all and can still be enforced if necessary.

A contract is an agreement between two or more parties to accomplish a goal in exchange for something. A contract is enforceable if there is an offer by a party and the offer is accepted by the other party with an exchange of something valuable.

There is no reason an emailed contract cannot be enforced. Consider the following:

·      Although one email can create a contract, additional emails that include different pieces of information, such as prices and a description of property, can all be connected to create a contract.

·      In some instances, one preliminary email can be considered binding even if it mentions a formal agreement to be created at a later date.

·      An implied-in-fact contract can be created even if certain words of agreement are not included.

·      Some instances, like a mechanic’s lien or mortgage liens, could require a specific sequence of events and formal documentation that is not provided through email.

·      Words like “accept,” “agreement,” or “agree” are critical when you don’t have a formal contract.

·      If there are specific conditions that have to be met in the agreement, you have to make sure they are clearly stated. If there are more formal agreements that will be required at a later date, that information needs to be included.

Always make sure that your contracts are very straightforward so that you can protect yourself. Do not use any casual language. If you are negotiating your terms in an email, you have to make it very clear if no final deal has been made.

Is an Email Contract Enforceable if there is No Signature?

Believe it or not, there is no requirement for a signature on an enforceable contract. Both parties only have to consent that an agreement has been reached. A court will often overlook the lack of formality and will instead favor the formation of a contract as long as it is clear that all parties intended to enter a contract.

A signature is the most common method used to get consent, but there are other ways to do so. If all parties write something in the email message that a person could reasonably perceive as an acceptance, the contract via email is allowed to be enforced.

The consent to an agreement does not necessarily need to be in the same email message as the original agreement. It is possible for the consent to be thirty emails away from the initial agreement and still be valid.

By law, electronic communications are considered good enough to satisfy the statute that all contracts be in writing. It is crucial that a business owner who deals with contracts is very careful when making a deal through email.

Are There Any Exceptions or Issues Involved with Contracting by Email?

There are some contracts that will have to be put in writing on paper to be considered lawful and enforceable. An example of these would be anything dealing with real estate; such transactions are not allowed to be performed in less than one year. Also included are any contracts of debt being assumed by someone else, or contracts for goods over $500.

A common problem with using email for these contracts is the issue of authenticity between parties. If a party wants to exit a contract, they could claim that another person had access to their email and entered into a contract on his or her behalf.

If you need help understanding how you can enter into contracts through your email, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.