It is very important to actually sign contracts that you agree to enter into. There are a number of reasons why this is important for you. Contract negotiations between parties can be a lengthy process. You can invest a lot of effort, time and money negotiating a contract and then not complete the most important step: getting the final version of the contract and signing it. Signing the final version creates certainty about what version of the contract you’ll be bound by. Negotiations can produce various versions of the contract and it is crucial that the one which best represents the agreement that you and the other party have come to, binds you. This ultimately ensures that the contract sufficiently protects both yours and the other party’s interests.
Reasons why it is so important to sign contracts
Sign contracts to create documents with good evidentiary value. It gives you proof that the other party intended to enter into the contract with you and be bound by the obligations of that contract. Having this proof is very useful when you want to take action against that party, for example, because they are not complying with their obligations. You’ll be able to refer to the contract and know you exactly what you’re entitled to. If your contract is unsigned, however, then it’ll likely be very difficult to claim the money, for example, that someone owes you.
In litigation, the person with the most documentation wins. If the other side can find any reason to delay things or raise issues, it will lengthen the process and cost you more money.
Making the process easier
Using electronic signatures to sign
The one way to improve the process of signing contracts is to use electronic signatures. This is where you don’t physically have to be there, in the same room with the other party in order to sign contracts. In other words, you eSign the contracts. Sign contract in this way to solve one of the main reasons why people do not sign contracts – logistics and practicality. When you get the final version of the contract, you, then, no longer need to print, physically sign, scan and email it to the other party.
Importantly, you must know the difference between contracts that the law allows you to sign with an ordinary electronic signature, and those that the law requires an advanced electronic signature for. If that is the case, make sure you use the right electronic signature and go through the process properly.
Do you need a witness signature?
The short answer is No – a witness does not need to sign for the contract to be valid.
Once you have signed the contract
The best way to scan a physically-signed contract
If you and the other party have signed the final version of the contract with a handwritten signature, you’ll want to scan it and store it electronically. The best way to scan it is using OCR. OCR converts PDF documents to word documents, allowing you to search through the document at a later stage. This will help you search for keywords in the contract if you need to find something in it or to check whether it covers something.
Regardless of whether you have signed the contract with an electronic signature or physically, you have to store the signed contract properly. This is where contract management systems come in. It doesn’t matter whether you manage that system by using Dropbox or a proper contract management system. What matters is that you must be able to find the signed contract quickly and easily when you need it. It shouldn’t be signed and shoved in a draw. It has to be accessible.
Having a dedicated storage place for signed contracts will help in future cases when, at a moments’ notice, you’ll need to produce a signed contract. It also helps with the safety of the contracts and prevents them from getting lost or misplaced.
Actions you can take
- Know how to draft, negotiate and manage IT Contracts by attending our IT Contracts Workshop.
- Lawfully sign documents by reading more about electronic signature law and attending a workshop on practically using electronic signatures and the law.
- Find out how to get an advanced electronic signature.
- Get a crash course in electronic signatures by getting the Michalsons Electronic Signature Handbook.
If you are interested, please complete the form on the right or enquire now. We will contact you to find out more about your requirements and give you a quote.