What makes an online contract legally binding?


I'm looking at starting my own remote I.T support company. As the work would be done remotely, I won't be seeing the customers face to face to sign documents.

If I made my own website which stated the terms of the contract with a text box the user then enters their name in which creates a digital version of their signature to the screen and exports that document to a PDF, is that then legally binding?

Also, what is to prove that THEY signed that contract before hand, should they not pay?

Thanks in advance,

Contract Legal

asked Sep 22 '13 at 23:37
115 points
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3 Answers


Here's how I think of it:

1) you can dig up the actual conditions for a contract to be enforceable. You'll hear about the fact that the two parties must agree, both parties must receive something, etc. A contract doesn't have to be written on paper with a signature to be enforceable, but it helps.

Which brings me to the main issue:

2) Once your contract is enforceable, if something goes wrong (such as the other person refusing to pay), your only recourse is to take them to court. I let you imagine what that looks like if they are far away.

Which brings me to my advice (not knowing much else about your business): if you intend to do business online, payment is key. Use Paypal, credit card, or anything else to establish that the other party is working in good faith. And have an online contract to make sure every condition is spelled out. If you can't manage any upfront payment, you'll have a hard time sorting out bogus customers from real ones. And you don't want to do any work for people who won't pay you...

answered Sep 23 '13 at 03:34
Alain Raynaud
10,927 points
  • I think you make very valid points, thanks. – Muffinbubble 9 years ago


Have you looked into using the service offered by RightSignature? I use them and they are exactly what I need. I get my legal documents via legalzoom and it is all perfect.

answered Sep 26 '13 at 04:55
Steve Kinzey
11 points
  • Thanks, I missed this site. Looks good. :) – Muffinbubble 9 years ago


Get your lawyer to check state law; some states have pretty modern electronic signature laws that allow contracts to be signed in various electronic ways.

I wouldn't just check a box for an important contract, though. I'd at least send a Word or PDF document and have the counterparty sign it by hand or use some electronic signature program to electronically sign it (by having a signature printed on the document).

answered Sep 23 '13 at 09:18
City Entrepreneur
42 points

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