In Texas, there is a possibility that a court will allow a text message to be evidence that a written, signed agreement exists. While Texas courts have not specifically ruled on whether text messages can be used as evidence of an enforceable contract, other states, such as New York, Massachusetts, and California have held in prior court cases that text messages can be used to create valid and enforceable contracts.
WHEN A TEXT MESSAGE COULD POTENTIALLY BE USED AS EVIDENCE OF AN ENFORCEABLE AGREEMENT
Ultimately, the enforceability of an agreement contained in a text message may be contingent on the contents of that text message. If a text message contains all of the necessary requirements of an enforceable contract, there is a possibility that a court will uphold the text message as a valid contract or a valid amendment to a contract. In order to have a valid, enforceable contract, there must be:
- an offer,
- an acceptance,
- a signature, and
- the contract must be made between parties capable of forming a contract.
Further, a contract can be amended in a similar fashion. Thus, if a message between two parties includes these five elements, the court may uphold the agreement.
RECENT TEXAS CASES
Moreover, two Texas Supreme Court cases have recently held that email exchanges did not constitute enforceable contracts. Nevertheless, in both cases, the courts emphasized that emails could constitute an enforceable agreement if:
- all formation requirements of a contract were met;
- there was a clear meeting of the minds; and
- the emails exhibited a present intent to be bound.
Thus, the Texas Supreme Court is not adverse to holding that an email or text message is a valid contract or amendment to a contract, depending on the writing at hand.
THE SIGNATURE REQUIREMENT
Lastly, regarding the signature requirement, under the UETA, an electronic signature is an electric sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. Under this definition, case law has established that an email satisfies the definition of an electronic record, and a name or email in a “from” filed is a symbol logically associated with the email. Thus, a name or email in a from field functions as a signature in an email no matter if there was a signature block at the end of an email. Additionally, it is immaterial that the “from” field in an email is not manually filled in from the sender.
TEXT MESSAGES: SIMILAR OR DISSIMILAR TO EMAILS
In accordance with prior rulings regarding emails, we can expect that courts will follow the same notion when considering text messages. Therefore, since a text message identifies the sender of the text and authenticates that the text is his act, it is likely that courts will consider a sent text message as signed.
Still, there is a chance that Texas courts will rule differently when a case regarding text messages appears in court. Courts may differentiate emails from text messages because text messages tend to lack the formality that emails have. Typically, more thought is put into an email then a text message, so there is a possibility that different conclusions on the law will occur.
THE KELLER FIRM CAN HELP
Do you think you have entered into a contract via text message? The Keller Firm has extensive experience in all forms of litigation in Texas. Contact The Keller Firm to discuss your matter today.
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