UK Court Holds Contract May Be Formed Through Series of Emails

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On September 3, an appeals court in the United Kingdom held that a contract of guarantee executed in a series of emails duly authenticated by the electronic signature of the guarantor is enforceable. Golden Ocean Group Ltd. v. Salgaocar Mining Indus. PVT Ltd., No A3/2001/0440, 0438. In this case, a ship owner sought to enter into a long-term charter of the ship with a mining conglomerate. The shipping brokers negotiating the contract on behalf of the parties did so through a series of emails. An early email contained the provision of guarantee, but the guarantee was not explicitly restated in the final email that culminated the agreement. The court held that under English law the emails at issue here properly formed a contract, including the guarantee. The court added that the electronic signature of the guarantor’s agent on the culminating email is proper authentication of the contract of guarantee contained in the earlier email, and that generally, “an electronic signature is sufficient and that a first name, initials, or perhaps a nickname will suffice.” The court upheld the lower court’s decision and dismissed the appeal.