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What kind of documents are eSign legal in the US, specifically Oregon?

This grows out of Are Digital Signatures legally valid? Do keys need to be published? where @Nbice369 asked this in an answer.

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  • Fun Fact (slightly off topic): Almost all transactions on all U.S. stock exchangesand on the main U.S. Commodities Exchange in Chicago except the NASDAQ, are done orally rather than being in writing at all, even when they involve hundreds of millions of dollars. Contemporaneous notes of brokers on both sides of the deals are used instead. Likewise, almost of publicly held corporation board resolutions and almost all governmental legislative bodies down to city councils make decisions orally with a secretary or clerk recording the vote in notes from the meeting or legislative sessions.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 29, 2021 at 14:34

1 Answer 1

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Under the US federal E-Sign Act -- 15 U.S. Code § 7001 prfetty much all documents to which federal law applies may use an electronic signature. The law specifically says

(a) (1) a signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form; and

(a) (2) a contract relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation.

15 U.S. Code § 7002 provides that :

(a) In general -- A State statute, regulation, or other rule of law may modify, limit, or supersede the provisions of section 7001 of this title with respect to State law only if such statute, regulation, or rule of law—

(a) (1) constitutes an enactment or adoption of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act as approved and recommended for enactment in all the States by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1999, except that any exception to the scope of such Act enacted by a State under section 3(b)(4) of such Act shall be preempted to the extent such exception is inconsistent with this subchapter or subchapter II, or would not be permitted under paragraph (2)(A)(ii) of this subsection; or

(a) (2)

(A) specifies the alternative procedures or requirements for the use or acceptance (or both) of electronic records or electronic signatures to establish the legal effect, validity, or enforceability of contracts or other records, if—

(i) such alternative procedures or requirements are consistent with this subchapter and subchapter II; and

(ii) such alternative procedures or requirements do not require, or accord greater legal status or effect to, the implementation or application of a specific technology or technical specification for performing the functions of creating, storing, generating, receiving, communicating, or authenticating electronic records or electronic signatures; and

(B) if enacted or adopted after June 30, 2000, makes specific reference to this chapter.

(b) Exceptions for actions by States as market participants

Subsection (a)(2)(A)(ii) shall not apply to the statutes, regulations, or other rules of law governing procurement by any State, or any agency or instrumentality thereof.

(c) Prevention of circumvention

Subsection (a) does not permit a State to circumvent this subchapter or subchapter II through the imposition of nonelectronic delivery methods under section 8(b)(2) of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.

15 U.S. Code § 7003 provides that :

(a) Excepted requirements The provisions of section 7001 of this title shall not apply to a contract or other record to the extent it is governed by—

(a) (1) a statute, regulation, or other rule of law governing the creation and execution of wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts;

(a) (2) a State statute, regulation, or other rule of law governing adoption, divorce, or other matters of family law; or

(a) (3) the Uniform Commercial Code, as in effect in any State, other than sections 1–107 and 1–206 and Articles 2 and 2A.

(b) Additional exceptions -- The provisions of section 7001 of this title shall not apply to—

(b) (1) court orders or notices, or official court documents (including briefs, pleadings, and other writings) required to be executed in connection with court proceedings;

(b) (2) any notice of—

(b) (A) the cancellation or termination of utility services (including water, heat, and power);

(b) (B) default, acceleration, repossession, foreclosure, or eviction, or the right to cure, under a credit agreement secured by, or a rental agreement for, a primary residence of an individual;

(b) (C) the cancellation or termination of health insurance or benefits or life insurance benefits (excluding annuities); or

(b) (D) recall of a product, or material failure of a product, that risks endangering health or safety; or

(b) (3) any document required to accompany any transportation or handling of hazardous materials, pesticides, or other toxic or dangerous materials.

Under the latest versions of the UCC, the articles governing funds transfers, letters of credit, documents of title, security interests in personal property and investment securities all permit the use of certain electronic records and signatures for many purposes, as specified in the particular articles.

Thus pretty much all documents except or those listed in 7002 and 7003 may be electronially sigend and still be legally valid in the US.

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  • As a practical matter, I'm not sure that real property deeds that are notarized and similar notarized documents meant to be recorded can be done as E-signatures, not strictly because the document can't be E-signed, but because many states require that the notary and signatory be in each other's physical presence defeating the purpose of E-signing. Also some investment/security/insurance payments require "guaranteed signatures" a private sector version of notarization with more signature guarantor liability for fraud which isn't clearly pre-empted.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 29, 2021 at 14:22
  • With respect to UCC documents, usually negotiable instruments can be negotiated either by signing the physical original negotiable instrument or with an allonge (an affixed document stating that it is negotiated) and only an allonge can be E-signed.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 29, 2021 at 14:26
  • On the other hand, with respect to 15 USC 7003(b)(1) (court documents), in U.S. federal court and in a number of state courts (but not all) many documents that used to have to be notarized such as affidavits and verified complaints and petitions can now be substituted with not notarized declarations under penalty of perjury, which can sometimes be E-signed, and attorney and judge signatures on pleadings which used to have to be manual can now be E-signed in most jurisdictions.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 29, 2021 at 14:30

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