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Electronic Signatures Still Prohibited At This Time

October 28, 2013 - Updated: October 28, 2013




Electronic Signatures Still Prohibited At This Time


I would like to clarify and remind all our agents that electronic signatures on any type of real estate agreements are still currently illegal.    


It has been brought to my attention that there are agents, knowingly or un-knowingly, allowing their clients to add electronic signatures to Listing and Sale agreements, which is against the law right now.  Electronic signatures are NOT permitted at this time.  For an example, one of our agents recently received an amendment to an offer from an agent who's client literally typed their name in the signature section on a PDF file.  Luckily, the listing agent was savvy enough to spot the "fake signature" and refused to accept the agreement.  This issue seems to be becoming more prevalent in recent months especially with the increasing popularity of Mobile Touch Screens and Tablets. 


As mentioned in our Office Bulletin dated June 24, 2013 and touched upon in our “iPAD for Realtors” seminar on Oct 8th, there is a proposed amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA), 2000 seeking to allow electronic signatures on electronic real estate contracts in the future.  This proposed amendment would only come into effect upon government proclamation, that’s when the government announces that it will go into effect.  When, and if, the amendment to the ECA is proclaimed, electronic signatures on electronic agreements (such as Listing Agreements and Agreements of Purchase and Sale) will only then be permitted.  RECO will inform all registrants via e-mail and a Registrar's Bulletin will be issued.  OREA has noted on their Sept. 5th online blog that “Although it could receive proclamation as early as this fall, it is most likely this will not occur until sometime in 2014.” 


The legal impact of using e-signatures when the proposed amendment has not yet been proclaimed is serious and against the law.  The existing rules regarding electronic signatures continue to be in force - the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA), 2000 states that a contract for the sale of land MUST BE IN WRITING TO BE ENFORCEABLE under the Statute of Frauds, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter S.19.   To avoid contravening this, it is very important that all agents continue to have all types of agreements that convey an interest in land be completed in writing only (signatures on printed / faxed copies only). No electronic signatures should be used or accepted.      


Be proactive and look over all signature fields in real estate documents you receive. Become as educated on this issue as possible to protect yourself and your clients.   

If you have any questions or concerns please contact OREA’s Government Relations Department:  

Tagged with: electronic signatures e-signatures digital documents sales contracts agreement of purchase and sale
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