Ya But Electronic Signatures Aren’t Legal

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Says you.

Ok, so you may be right if you are in Manitoba. You may be partially right if you are in Ontario.

Where you are WRONG is if you are in BC or Alberta. As an Agent I have run into this objection from lenders and REALTORS® more than once in the last couple of years.

Here is a common objection:

You have to re-write the contract, the electronic signatures are not legal

Not true and here is the proof, I am going to save you the legal speak and paraphrase(If you want a copy of the act you can get it here):  “a legal requirement  that a record be signed is satisfied by an electronic signature.” This is in section 16(1)(2)a,b of the Electronic Transaction Act of Alberta.

In fact even RECA has their say on the relevancy and legality of the electronic signature:  “In RECA’s view, under the ETA, electronic real estate purchase agreements and real estate service agreements with electronic signatures are equivalent to those written on paper. This also applies to service agreements and contracts in the real estate, property management, mortgage, and appraisal industries. The ETA has yet to be judicially considered, so this position may change in the future.”

What About Electronic Signatures in BC and Ontario?

In BC the Electronic Transaction Act is almost identical in nature with respect to electronic signatures as it is in Alberta. They are legal. Why they aren’t being used a little more, we are not entirely sure, perhaps it’s apathy or it takes too much time to learn(insert sarcasm here) or maybe it’s just that Agents have enough to absorb in a day, 1 more thing might make them pass out.

In Ontario the electronic signature is legal on almost EVERY document that they use with the exception of the purchase contract and the listing contract.

An amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act of Ontario passed second reading in the Ontario legislature on March 21st, 2013. Real Estate Agents in Ontario are now patiently waiting for their government to put the amendment into law, we have no idea how long this will take. Could be months, could be years.

How do I Find Out More About Electronic Signatures in my Province?

We would suggest getting in contact with your provincial regulator like RECA in Alberta or RECO in Ontario to find out their position on electronic signatures first. From there they should be able to tell you whether they are legal in your province.

Or you could get in touch with us here and we can let you know for sure.