Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Appeals Court Changes Its Mind for Second Time on Publication of Electronic-Signature Opinion
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Div. Two of the First District Court of Appeal yesterday ordered publication of an opinion on electronic signatures which it had ordered published on Dec. 5, then designated as “not for publication” the same day.
The panel will have until Friday to again unpublish it, should it be so inclined.
In its Dec. 5 order revoking the opinion’s publication status, the panel declared that the opinion “does not meet the standard for publication as set forth in rule 8.1105(c) of the California Rules of Court.”
Yesterday, it apparently decided it does meet that standard, saying in an order:
“After the court’s review of request under California Rules of Court, rule 8.1120, and good cause established under rule 8.1105, it is hereby ordered that the opinion should be published in the Official Reports.”
The opinion holds that an enforceable settlement agreement can be formed where the party accepting the terms has indicated assent in an e-mail with his or her name typed at the bottom, but only if requisites of the California Uniform Electronic Transactions Act are satisfied.
Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline explains in the opinion that in the case before the court, the e-mail accepting proposed settlement terms did not create a binding accord because nothing in the record showed that the defendant, R. Thomas Fair, “printed his name at the end of his e-mail with any intent to formalize an electronic transaction.”
Modifications in the opinion were made yesterday to make the point that Fair’s printed name did not constitute a “signature.”
In the original opinion, Kline wrote that the court agrees with Fair “regarding the ineffectuality of his printed name on the document sought to be enforced as a settlement.” The opinion now says that “Fair’s printed name on the document sought to be enforced as a settlement, was not a signature.”
In the Dec. 5 rendition, Kline declined to discuss the contention that all settling parties had not signed the agreement—as required by Code of Civil Procedure §664.6 where a court is asked to enter judgment pursuant to a settlement—“because our ruling on Fair’s other claim renders the issue moot.”
In yesterday’s version, Kline said: “[W]e need not decide whether all of the plaintiffs signed the settlement agreement because…the record is clear that one of the parties, Fair, never signed the agreement as required by Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6.”
The case is J.B.B. Partners Investments Ltd. v. Fair, which appears in the Dec. 8 MetNews S.O.S. at 5511.
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