Maybe it was all the hype about “Back to the Future” last week, but lately, a lot of people have been asking us for “originals” of documents, when they are given PDF or Fax Copies.
News Flash: it is 2015, not 1985 and for most documents, a PDF or Fax version is as good an original. There are notable exceptions and it is always worth asking your lawyer if you are not sure, however, the Ontario Electronic Commerce Act has been in place since 2000 and allows not only fax and PDF to be “originals” but also allows electronic signatures for many documents.
If you choose to use an electronic signature for your contracts, the Act requires that you provide a copy of the contract to the signing party in a form that is available for future review. This means emailing a copy is fine, but directing a party to a website, is not. You may not use digital locks on the contract and it must be protected against future alteration in its’ final version.
While the Act has been around for a fairly long time, it appears many lawyers are unaware of it or simply unwilling to step away from 1985 and into the future/present.
If your lawyer is stuck in the past with Marty McFly and Doc Brown, feel free to reach out to our firm – we provide current legal advice, without the DeLorean.
Inga B. Andriessen JD