Caveat Subscriptor in the 21st Century…. The effect of a cancellation of a contract by means of an electronic signature.

electronic signitureSection 13(1) of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (The Act”) states as follows:

“[W]here the signature of a person is required by law and such law does not specify the type of signature, that requirement in relation to a data message is met only if an advanced electronic signature is used”.

In terms of the ECT Act an electronic signature is defined as:

“[D]ata attached to, incorporated in, or logically associated with other data and which is intended by the user to serve as a signature”.

The principal issue in the case of Spring Forest Trading CC v Wilberry (Pty) Ltd t/a Ecowash and Another[1] was whether the typewritten names of the parties at the foot of the email (cancelling the agreement) constituted valid signatures. The applicant was the proprietor of an Eco wash system operated from one of its mobile dispensing units. The nature of the business was washing cars in parking lots of shopping malls, office parks, hotels and hospitals. The parties respectfully concluded a written agreement on 28 April 2012 in terms of which the applicant appointed the respondent as its operating agent. The respondent was thus entitled to promote, operate, and rent out the applicant’s mobile dispensing units to third parties.

[1] Spring Forest Trading CC v Wilberry (Pty) Ltd t/a Ecowash and Another 2015 (2) SA 118 (SCA)

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