7

You sign something on a signature pad, and only after you've signed it, receive the printed statement with the full statement which you've supposedly acknowledged prior to signing, but have never actually been shown prior to being asked to "please sign here", only having been provided with an incomplete explanation of what the signature is for...

Would a signature in such circumstances be binding? If you've never seen or heard the full statement beneath which your preceding one-time signature is immediately placed, and not even explicitly given any extra time to examine the statement afterwards, either?

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    I would claim I was signing a shipping acknowledgement, not a contract at all, and the other party unlawfully attached it to a contract. – Joshua Sep 1 '15 at 2:15
  • @Joshua, LOL. A cop or court clerk presenting you the signature pad to sign a shipping acknowledgment? :-) – cnst Sep 1 '15 at 2:34
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    Sorry, the only kind of signature pad I've seen was in a context where this could be the meaning. – Joshua Sep 1 '15 at 4:05
8

Generally a signature is binding even if you have not read the document you have signed; as far as the law is concerned you should have and it's too bad for you if you didn't. Of course, this presumes the contract is otherwise valid.

In the circumstances you describe you should ask to see the document before signing. If that is not possible, then instead of signing you should write "I do not agree" instead and take the printed statement - only 1 in 100 people will actually check that you did sign.

If you have signed and do not wish to be bound, you should contact the company immediately in writing and say that and that they can collect whatever goods they have supplied.

  • 4
    This is, of course, subject to certain limits (for instance, if you bought something in a store and it turned out you were signing up for a medical trial; while you should have read the thing you signed, it may not be binding if no reasonable person would expect it to possibly be in the contract or agree to the contract if they knew it was there). – cpast Aug 30 '15 at 7:28
  • LOL, great advice! P.S. BTW, this is not a company, it's the government that's doing this, and even two different branches within the same gov! – cnst Aug 30 '15 at 8:27
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    Or write 'under duress', 'under protest', ... – user207421 Aug 30 '15 at 8:38
6

I disagree with Dale M's answer.

Short Answer

Maybe.

The contract might or might not be enforceable depending on the evidence produced by the parties.

Explanation

Meeting of the minds

Contracts must meet specific requirements in order to be enforceable. Being "signed" is not one of those requirements. But having a "meeting of the minds" is.

Just like any civil case, the standard for winning is a preponderance of the evidence — meaning the winner will be the one who provides more evidence supporting their position.

Rebuttable presumption

Your problem is that your signature gives the other party evidence to support their claim that you agreed to the terms of the document and, therefore, the "meeting of the minds" requirement was met. In other words, the evidence of your signature provides a rebuttable presumption of a contract. You can rebut that presumption with evidence of your own. But you will have to prove your case by producing evidence.

Your evidence will need to be more than just a contrary assertion (i.e., the "I didn't read it" defense). As your simple assertion can be cancelled out with an equal and opposite assertion by the other side. And the other side would then win the preponderance battle based on the signature. Your new evidence needs to outweigh the evidence of your signature.

Non est factum

You might also have the legal argument of Non est factum (it's not my deed).

Hire a lawyer

You really need to have an attorney who specializes in contract law analyze your case and advise you.

  • How can one agree or disagree to a document if none is produced prior to the signature being taken? It's a bit ironic that your answer appears to advise us to "read it", yet you don't seem to have actually read the question! – cnst Sep 1 '15 at 2:44
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    @cnst: I read the question. I understood the question. I don't think you understand my answer. My answer is not to "read it." You can't read something you never saw. (How did you take that away from my answer?) I am saying you will have to show evidence that explains why your signature does not represent agreement. For example, you can depose witnesses during discovery. You can review company policies and procedures. You can interview every person that was on the delivery route that day and ask them if they were shown the agreement first. That's why you need a lawyer's advice. – Mowzer Sep 1 '15 at 4:47

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