Technology today has become a vital component of the society; all societal interactions are embracing technology very rapidly. In the field of business, technology is revolutionizing how people interact and conduct business. At the moment, the internet is making it possible for people to transact over the internet media, enabling them improve business efficiency and effectiveness greatly. While such trends emerge laws and legal regulations relating to conducting business over through the cyber space are also evolving, just as rapidly. Arguing on the parallel, legal trends and issues pertaining to the use of e-contracts and e-signatures in carrying out business today will be the focus.
Traditionally, contracting was limited to the physical presence of the contracting parties. Such contracts involved many formalities such as written evidence and in some cases a witness into the transaction. With the emergence of the internet, transactions take place electronically, which has given birth to e-commerce. The rapid expansion and development of e-commerce have led to the emergence of a new legal trend, e-contracting. E contracting is an emergent legal issue in e-commerce, which aims at making electronic contracts legally binding. E-contracts anchor upon the principles of contract law, such that agreements arising from such contracts are legally binding (Ottaviani, 2010). In electronic contracts, many activities involved such offer and acceptance and consideration occur virtually with parties having not to meet physically.
Electronic contracts exist in various ways. For example, agreements can take the form of “click-wraps”, ”browse wraps” or “shrink wraps”. Click-wrap and shrink-wrap agreements enable parties to enter into a binding agreement by a clicking a box. Browse-wraps, on the other hand, facilitate the contracting parties to enter into a contractual agreement by redirecting them to a page containing the terms of the contract (Ishak, 2007).
Despite occurring electronically, e-contracts need to fulfill a number of requirements, which include offer, acceptance, consideration, and intention to create legal relation (Marjanovic & Milosevic, 2001). In the electronic platform; however, firms have to flex the general terms in certain cases in order to suit their intentions. For example, the terms regarding when the contract is deemed as concluded are variant across different organizations. In some companies acceptance is made by way of email, while in other companies’ acceptance takes the form of issuance of reference numbers. Such terms are contained in the company’s website, and it is usually the customer to read and understand them.
Consideration takes the form of the customer’s payment for the accepted offer. Considerations can take place over the internet or otherwise as specified in the company’s terms and conditions. The intention to create a legal relation is implied upon the party’s interactions. When these matters are substantially met,...