eli5: why do we still rely on hand signatures to validate contracts?


aren’t by now easy to fake? (e.g hand-writing robots)

Plus we often do digital signatures, which are basically a jpg on top of a PDF document, no?

In: 132

It essentially ups the ante. Misremembering what was agreed to is a matter for civil courts. Forging somebody’s signature is a matter for criminal court.

An actual contract is typically not validated by the hand signature, but by being notarized. A notary is an unaffiliated third party that has been authorized by the state/government to act as a witness to an event. They usually check that the people are who they say they are (check IDs), then witness the signature, then sign the document themselves for the record.

If there is a dispute about who signed the contract, the notary can be subpoenaed to testify that that the defendant was/wasn’t the one signing the document.

For more serious cases, a signature will be required to be done in the presence of a third party like a notary public, who will witness the signing of the document and affirm that the person whose signature appears on the document was the person who actually signed it (and anything else that needs to be witnessed or affirmed.) But that can be extremely inconvenient, so for many purposes a signature that is ultimately only so trustworthy, is good enough. At the end of the day no manner of documentation is %100 trustworthy in all cases, but we have an adversarial legal system that allows people to dispute things, so if there is some disagreement about who agreed to what that recourse is always available to the parties

We’re moving away from them, but it will take time.

My company signs new work contracts digitally, it’s a PDF but it’s doesn’t have any HR signature; if you open the document, it says something like “Digitally signed and all signatures are valid”.

But I think they use a third party service for signing, they pay something for every signed document, and they pay for archiving too. It’s useful for IT remote workers, maybe not so much for hiring on-site manual laborers.