Client Alert: Avoiding Accidental Contracts: How Unsigned, Pre-PSA E-Mail Correspondence May Create a Legally Binding Contract

In recent years, business transactions have evolved from face-to-face meetings in boardrooms to telephone conferences and now to emails sent from laptops, tablets, and even cell phones.  The ease and convenience of using electronic communications to foster business relationships and engage in business transactions has forever changed the corporate world and is now beginning to have significant legal consequences for contract formation in the digital age.  Recently, the First Court of Appeals in Houston, in Le Norman Operating LLC v. Chalker Energy Partners III, LLC, held that pre-PSA email correspondence was sufficient evidence to create a fact issue as to contract formation to overcome summary judgment, and that the mere presence of a name or email address in the “from” field in an email was sufficient evidence of an electronic signature.  This Client Alert provides an overview of this significant decision and practical tips and recommendations for avoiding the creation of accidental contracts in the digital age.