E-Signatures Can Now Be Used On Ontario Real Estate Documents

Effective July 1, 2015 an amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 makes it permissible for parties to use electronic signatures to sign agreements of purchase and sale and other documents that create or transfer an interest in land.

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Lawyers who can still remember their first year contracts course from law school will recall that oral contracts (and other forms of non-written contracts) can nonetheless be enforceable contracts – but the Statute of Frauds (which dates back to a 1677 English law) carves out an exemption to this general rule for contracts which purport to transfer an interest in land. This was, ostensibly, to prevent fraudsters alleging (and “proving”) an oral sale of land where none existed.

When Ontario’s Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 (“ECA”) was introduced in 2000, it allowed certain documents to be signed with electronic signatures. However, documents that “create or transfer interests in land and require registration to be effective against third parties” were exempted from the modernization efforts and still required handwritten signatures (see former s. 31(1)(4)). Once again, over 300 years later, the concern was fraud. Read more.

This article was originally posted on the CyberLex blog on July 6, 2015.

agreement of purchase and sale e-commerce Electronic Commerce Act electronic signatures fraud

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