Accepting an Offer
Accepting an offer is what shows assent to the terms of the offer made by the offeree. This is where the mirror image rule comes into play. The mirror image rule dictates that the offeree must unequivocally accept the offer. If additional terms are made, they can be considered as a counteroffer. In some cases, silence can be considered an acceptance.
Other means of communicating acceptance of an offer is written document that is faxed, mailed, or emailed. The mailbox rule is where the offeree officially accepts the offer when their acceptance notice was sent, in the same from it was received in (unless otherwise specified.)
As cloud technology continues to make contracting online more viable and secure, new legislation has specified the requirements of using paperless technology to manage contracts. If you choose to use an e-contract instead of a traditional paper contract, your e-document must contain the following things:
- Remedies for the buyer.
- Statute of limitations.
- Buyer’s acceptance criteria.
- Method of payment.
- Any applicable refund and return policies.
- Disclaimers of liability.
- Privacy statement.
Provisions to include in online contracts are choice of law and choice of from. For online acceptances, there are clickable agreements as well as signatures for more substantial transactions. Amazon and E-bay are good examples of businesses that use a type of contract to tender their services. Whenever a buyer checks out and clicks on the “acceptance button” the buyer agrees to certain terms and conditions. Shrink wrap agreements are another form of contract online. Contract terms are generally written in a box that a customer can read before choosing to accept.
Electronic Signatures (E-Signatures)
Some of the technology that keeps electronic signatures valid and prevents them from being exploited by hackers are asymmetric cryptosystems and cyber notary. The legality of electronic signatures was established by the uniform electronic transactions act (1999), and on the federal level by the E-Sign (2000) Act, which gives e-signatures and other online legal documents the validity they need to be considered legally enforceable.
Searchsecurity.techtarget.com gives a little background on the history of asymmetric cryptography: Witfield Diffie & Martin Hellman, researchers at Stanford University, first publicly proposed asymmetric encryption in their 1977 paper, New Directions In Cryptography. (The concept had been independently and covertly proposed by James Ellis several years before when he was working for the British Government Communications Headquarters.) An asymmetric algorithm, as outlined in the Diffie-Hellman paper, is a trap door or one-way function. Such a function is easy to perform in one direction, but difficult or impossible to reverse. For example, it is easy to compute the product of two given numbers, but it is computationally much harder to find the two factors given only their product. Given both the product and one of the factors, it is easy to compute the second factor, which demonstrates the fact that the hard direction of the computation can be made easy when access to some secret key is given. The function used, the algorithm, is known universally. This knowledge does not enable the decryption of the message. The only added information that is necessary and sufficient for decryption is the recipient’s secret key.”
Cyber notary is explained in more detail by healdlaw.com here: “Technologies such as PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) are being developed and/or commercially used to provide the needed technical security. There still remains the universal and procedural problem relating to whether or not transacting parties can rely confidently on the verification of identity of the certified holders of digital signatures used in electronic transactions. Verification of identity is traditionally and uniquely the long established and globally recognised expertise of the Notary. Notaries are working towards meeting clients’ requirements for electronic notarisation of documents with a view to providing high assurance electronic trust services to government departments and businesses.”
Uniform Electronic Transactions Act
The uniform electronic transactions act was established to help remove barriers inhibiting electronic commerce and establish the validity of electronic signatures and electronic, online contracts. The act defines an electronic signature as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process associated with a record and adopted by a person with the intent to sign that record.” This act is limited in scope to electronic records that are transactionally based.
The legality and security surrounding electronic contracts and signatures has long been established. The basic features of electronic contracts are fairly standard, but the convenience and efficiency of online contracts is far from standard. Choosing to use cloud technology to manage, negotiate, and sign contracts offers the potential to drastically decrease the workload of contract managers, while improving accuracy and reliability. To see how your organization can benefit from using a contract management system, fill out the form to chat with one of our experts.
Concord is a cloud-based contract management platform that’s changing the way the world is creating, negotiating, signing and managing contracts. The platform is being used today by more than 40,000 companies in 130 countries, and tens of thousands of users who are now managing all of their contracts on Concord. Additional information can be found at http://www.concordnow.com/.
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