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Can a email be considered "in writing?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Rancher, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. Rancher

    Rancher

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    Having a dispute right now with a company that sent me an email ending their services to me. Had a contract that states either party can end contract if done "in writing".

    The company stated they would continue services with me for 90 days back in July which was fine with me and I emailed them back it was fine. Now they are saying the contract had to be terminated "in writing". I told them that is what they did. Back in July.

    Still have the email, they replied to my reply so they can't say they did not get it. They want me to pay another 90 days. I say no, they ended contract via email.

    So GT Braintrust what you think? Can an email be considered "in writing"? That is the exact wording in the contract.

    Rancher
     
  2. 427

    427

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    If an oral contract can enforceable, why not an email?
     

  3. Z71bill

    Z71bill

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    If the person that sent you the E-mail had the authority to act on the company's behalf - you are GTG.

    My GUESS is - they sent it to you without checking with their boss - boss wants the contract to continue - the person that sent you the E-mail is trying to cover their ass - get you to continue so they will not have to go tell the boss.
     
  4. Bren

    Bren NRA Life Member

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    Was the email not in writing? Most of them are.

    I don't know about your state, but I have actually dealt with this issue in a Kentucky contract case, and my research said that an email with the senders name is not just "in writing" but is even a "signed writing" that met the requirements of the contract. I can't imagine a state where an email would not, at least, be considered "in writing."

    In addition, they probably wrote the contract, instead of you, so a dispute about the term would usually be construed in your favor.

    I'd bet a paycheck you win.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  5. Gallium

    Gallium CLM

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    It depends. I have contracts with multiple entities, and I cannot terminate the (a, one of, for example) contract by sending them a letter, for example, to their technical support dept. I have to send it to customer care/service etc.

    What does your contract says about notification of termination of the contract?
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  6. Rancher

    Rancher

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    Thanks guys, the email was from a co-owner of the company. It included her name and title at the bottom which I assume goes out on all her emails.

    Rancher
     
  7. tsmo1066

    tsmo1066 Happy Smiley

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    An email from a password protected account is legally considered to be a signed, written document.

    That being said, the company you are dealing with can always claim that you owe them 90 more days and then screw up your credit by sending that alleged debt off to a collection agency in spite of the emails you've got.

    Your best bet is to have an attorney send them a certified letter on his letterhead informing them that you officially terminated your contract with them in writing back in July and that any further attempt to extract payment from you will result in legal action. Once they know that you've got representation and will bite if pushed, they will back off.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  8. Jeffe

    Jeffe

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    We do legally binding business via email all the time. Actually all our bidding and contracts are 'signed' by email and are contractually binding. We do do some significant contract work with various companies and never had a problem that way. Just -never- delete work email.
     
  9. jpa

    jpa CLM

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    To paraphrase...you received an email from the co-owner of a company that they will be discontinuing your service after continuing it for another 90 days. At the end of that 90 days they are claiming they didn't actually terminate the service and want you to continue paying?

    I think my next email to them would be to pound sand. Unless of course you WANT to continue service, in which case I would insist on a new contract.
     
  10. Reissman

    Reissman Millennium Member

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    When I write an email to a subcontractor or a GC I am working for I do a word document on a company memo. According to my company its legally binding in a letter form and email is not.
     
  11. Happypuppy

    Happypuppy

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    To make a document binding "E-Signature" use a app such as Adobe approval or another that allows for a secured signature in a PDF. It's pretty common these days.


    Sent via Messenger Pigeon
     
  12. Hef

    Hef Stop Obammunism

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    I document all of my important business correspondence by sending it via email and organizing it into folders by the customer and job. All official agreements are sent as PDF attachments with a read receipt and must be returned (signed) via email to be binding.

    Changes, deletions, and additions to any agreement may be done via email and will be honored by our company. Failure of a customer to honor such an agreement will result in a lien against the customer's property if they don't pay their invoice within 30 days.
     
  13. jpa

    jpa CLM

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    I'm just curious, have you ever had to enforce those terms? I would expect that most people who email you requesting a change would expect to pay for the change they requested, but what about those problem children who think they can get something for nothing? Also, what kind of work do you do if you don't mind posting?

    I'm getting very interested in the whole electronic communication dynamic and how the legal system treats those communications. It's a big change from requiring notarized signatures on everything....
     
  14. frizz

    frizz

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    It can be, but not always. A contract concerning real estate is not enforceable unless it is in writing. Same for a contract that can't be executed within one year.

    Then you have contracts that require any changes, extensions or additions to be mde in writing.
     
  15. frizz

    frizz

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    Cryptographic digital signatures is a good place to start on google to learn about the changes in the law to adapt to electronic commerce.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  16. Hef

    Hef Stop Obammunism

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    I have a general contracting business and a custom cabinet/millwork business with a partner.

    Few customers are ever a problem. For those who try to get "something for nothing", I have recourse. The threat of a lien is usually enough to get paid. If the amount owed is high enough, we can force a foreclosure, and that scares the hell out people. Legally, I can't remove what I've built/installed, but I can sue to take the property, and if I win I am also entitled to all of my legal fees paid by the customer per our contract.
     
  17. sombunya

    sombunya I like to watch and sometimes touch

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    I actually "E-Signed", via email, a bunch of documents concerning a refinance of my home. I will say that constitutes "in writing".
     
  18. Hef

    Hef Stop Obammunism

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    Being that many of our clients live 1000 miles away, we have a contractually approved change order process where we agree that electronic approvals are binding. We invoice for change orders upon approval and require payment at the next scheduled contract progress payment, and reserve the right to halt work if payment is not received.
     
  19. bambikilr

    bambikilr

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    yep, it's in writing
     
  20. frizz

    frizz

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    Concur.

    I wrote a short paper for a business-law class concerning whether or not an e-mail even COULD be a signed writing. This was in the 1990s before any legislation about the issue came up, so I had to work from existing contract principles.

    I touched on digital signatures, but I decided that the central issue would turn on whether or not putting /s/ at the bottom of an email would satisfy the signature requirement. I started with the fact that a literal X by an illiterate can suffice since it is an intent to authenticate. Similarly, an /s/ in a typewritten should work for the same reason.

    The difficulty with an email is the ease of altering it, but to stick with the central premise of possibility, I worked from the assumption that the contents were not contested.

    Given that, the email should be a writing and typing your name with the /s/ indicated a signature with intent to authenticate.

    Hey. Got an A+ on that puppy.