To agree to a contract you don’t always need to provide your squiggle, electronically or otherwise. We assume that is the case, but as the founders of Ironclad’s Clickwrap group – formerly Pactsafe – argue, there is a whole world of assent provision that does not involve a signature and it opens up a range of new opportunities for lawyers and corporates.
Artificial Lawyer was intrigued by this idea and so here is an AL TV Product Walk Through of CLM company Ironclad’s ‘Clickwrap’ offering, which allows you to create an agreement assent system with a lot of additional functionality, but without the need for your inky identifier.
The Walk Through is presented by the co-founders of Pactsafe, Eric Prugh and Brian Powers. The video is about 15 mins, which includes some Q&A. Press play to watch inside the page.
P.S. Just out of interest, would you feel comfortable providing assent – or letting your client provide assent – to a significant agreement that didn’t include a signature? In reality you probably provide assent a couple of times a day for minor things on the internet by just clicking a box without even thinking about it, but would you, for example, accept a client completing an M&A deal with a clickwrap-style approach, rather than using a signature?
As Powers argues, for many types of transaction there is nothing in the law that says you must have a wet or electronic signature, (at least in the US – and that may well be the case in other countries). What you need is to provide legally binding proof of acceptance, and that can be expressed in many different ways. Plus, the Clickwrap team would argue, once you take the step toward doing things their way, the additional info you can share in that agreement process enriches the overall contracting experience for all involved.
Of course, you may then respond: ‘Yep, true, but at the end of the day I still like to sign things, because I know everyone accepts that.’
Can we get over our need to scrawl our name on things to prove ownership and agreement? Hmmmm……..this goes into deep philosophical, psychological and anthropological territory. And in fact, there are several great blog posts about this aspect. See for example, this one by ‘The Grizzly Labs‘, which notes that: ‘The earliest relic we know of using words and symbols to validate identity is a Sumerian clay tablet dated back to 3100 BC. It displays marks from a scribe, Gar Ama, on which he made a list of 41 common professions.’
So, we’ve been signing things for the last 5,000 years. It’s going to be a hard habit to break.