James F. Mahoney, Attorney

November 2012

Your Emails and Texts Can Create Contracts

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Our businesses are flooded with email and texts. Every day we deal with messages that turn the terms of contracts on their heads. The messaging world and social media are affecting your legal relations with customers, suppliers and employees.

  • In a contract dispute, a federal court recently held that a terse exchange of instant messages amended the terms of a paper-written agreement.

  • Another court ruled that orders placed by email were legally effective under a government contract – even though the contract explicitly said email was not allowed.

  • A federal appeals court forced a vendor who had sued a customer to go to arbitration because it had posted arbitration terms on its web site, even though the contract in question did not contain an arbitration clause.

You may need to rethink – and revamp – your contract practices to avoid surprises and get the legal terms you want.