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Carl Desacola
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Hi Tamara87,

The short answer to your question is: You don’t actually need either a signature or typed name on a document to create a legally binding contract.

Keep in mind that, under our legal system, even a verbal agreement will be legally binding (subject to certain exceptions that are irrelevant here, such as contracts for the sale of land).

The fundamental requirements are simply that one party has made an offer (ie. articulated the proposed terms and conditions) and for another party to give notice that they accept the offer.

So if you want to be an administrative minimalist, you can actually just email your client a copy of your proposed contract (ie. terms and conditions) and it will become legally enforceable once your client:

(a) Signs a printed copy, scans it and emails it back to you;
(b) Sends an email back saying they accept the terms and conditions;
(c) Telephones you to say they are happy to proceed; or
(d) Gives you further instructions after you have sent your proposed contract.

In fact, many lawyers’ standard client agreements have provisions to this effect (including our firm’s).

Note that, in saying all this, I am not addressing situations where the true identity and location of the client are unknown to you. I see that as being more an issue in risk management, which is different to the question posed which is really just about whether certain conduct will cause your contract to be legally binding.

(Incidentally, even a typed name in an email can be an electronic signature – see Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth)).

Hope this has been helpful!

Kind Regards,

Carl Desacola, Lawyer & Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1461661)
Winthrop Mason | Business Lawyers & Migration Agents
http://www.winthropmason.com.au