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Is e-signature valid in legal papers?

Los Angeles, CA |
Filed under: Lawsuits and disputes

Can one use computer device such as a touch pad to sign the document, print it and file as legal document?

Attorney Answers 3


Yes. Under California law, a digital signature is defined as "an electronic identifier, created by computer, intended by the party using it to have the same force and effect as the use of a manual signature."

California Government Code section 16.5 states a digital signature shall have the same force and effect as a manual signature if and only if:

1) It is unique to the person using it.
2) It is capable of verification.
3) It is under the sole control of the person using it.
4) It is linked to data in such a manner that if the data are changed, the digital signature is invalidated, and
5) It conforms to regulations adopted by the Secretary of State.

California Government Code section 16.5 also provides that the use or acceptance of a digital signature is at the option of the parties to the transaction.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

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It depends. Many legal documents provide that a facsimile signature is as valid as an original. CA courts accept facsimile filings and some courts (U.S. District Courts and Orange County Superior Court, are examples) allow or require electronic filing.

There is variation regarding the actual signature, i.e., is a “/s/” used or an actual scanned signature. In most cases there is a requirement that an "original" with original signature be maintained by the filing party.

An e-signature is actually a digital signature generated by a particular user on a particular computer -- not a facsimile signature.

I am not aware of any courts in CA that accept true digital signatures, although they have gained some acceptance in commercial transactions. Adobe EcoSign is one such service.

I would welcome more uniform rules for electronic document signing. The variation makes implementation difficult and is the basic impediment to universal acceptance.

I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference

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i would agree with prior counsel, an e-signature can be valid if you follow the rules and criteria stated in the responses.

Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements are made for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client privilege is created by this communication. Attorney is licensed in California only.

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