I’m trying to work out an agreement with a client. I’ve sent him the agreement and asked him to sign it. He agrees with the terms, but he insists that today a signature isn’t necessary. It’s enough for him to reply by email that he agrees to the terms.
Would this be true in the event, chas veshalom, that I should need to take him to Beis Din? Or would a Beis Din say that because the agreement was never signed it’s not a valid contract? Does the contract need to be signed?
If taken to beis din, a verbal agreement can be sufficient, but this very much depends on the nature of the agreement between the parties.
If the contract relates to obligations and the like, a verbal agreement will not be sufficient; if it relates to terms of payment, it is possible that a verbal agreement is enough (depending on other factors), but it might come down to one person’s word against the other’s.
It is certainly advisable in every case to ensure a written and signed contract, which should be written in a binding way based on halachic principles. You can explain to him that for Beis Din purposes this is required, and that it is better to make the very slight effort now of singing the contract and scanning it in (or faxing it over) that risk trouble later.