Concluding agreements on Whatsapp

Arranging a little via Whatsapp seems so easy. It may be the only option for you in the present circumstances. However, things could really go wrong if the other person goes back on their agreement and you have no prove!


Young people today are relying more on instant networking and relying on the online world from buying their favourite Christmas gift online, storing bank account passwords and even making contracts on whatsapp.

While whatsapp uses end-to-end encryption which means that not even governments could read your messages on the back end let alone retrieve them if the need for recovering a message, let us assume, in a legal hearing arises. Agreements and certificates are increasingly being made and done online with electronic signatures. So you may be wrong if you think that agreements today come only on paper and with hand-written signatures.Yet, so many people who do that are still unaware of the legal requirements of doing so!

In some countries an agreement is enough to be concluded if there is an offer and an acceptance thereof. However, the law says that an agreement is essentially free of form that is if it is realized in a way that you and the other party agrees upon then it is valid. In that case, oral agreements may also be considered valid. But there still needs to be some written proof in writing because you may not want to get in to trouble if someday you had a fight with the other party be it your own husband! What if they go back on their own words? That is why writing provides you and the other party a burden of proof.


Is Whatsapp GDPR compliant?

If a party denies that certain agreements were made between you and them, then it would be upon yourself to produce certain proofs before the court during hearings. For instance, if you are a salesperson and the agreed price of a book was $50 but the buyer denies it with some made up excuse, it will be up to you to prove the contrary. Since, whatsapp uses end to end encryption and once deleted messages could not be retrieved be it some conversation of a legal agreement or a document that you or the other party deleted. Also, whatsapp is not a compliant of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). So, more and more businesses prefer now not to make agreements on whatsapp.


Agreement via e-mail, Whatsapp and Facebook chat

Other than whatsapp, people today also rely on other social media such as Facebook and emails to do business negotiations and payments. That is because in the fast paced world with increasing digital technology, it is easy to quickly make the necessary appointments and conclude deals via Whatsapp or e-mail. In principle, those agreements are therefore valid. Last year, a judge in Netherlands even ruled that a dismissal and notice of non-renewal of an employment contract via Whatsapp may be announced! But not all countries do that. The next question therefore arises whether the agreements are then legally binding?


Is the agreement legally binding?

While hand-written signatures are not always required, and oral agreements also work in some places, a contract or agreement could only be legally binding if has some electronic or other form of proof if done online.

If things go wrong, for example one of the parties does not comply with the agreements, the injured party must be able to prove that the other party provided the consent for the e-agreement to be legally binding through either a recorded oral statement or an e-signature. The so-called will declaration. If the person denies that he wanted to make these agreements, it is not that easy. How do you prove that the other person actually read the message and he also agreed to these arrangements? The so-called blue check marks (read confirmation) are not enough for that. You could not say with certainty that the message was actually read by that person for whom it was intended. This only shows that the message has been opened on the receiver's telephone. It could not proven that the recipient agreed to the content of that message. That is important for the realization of an agreement to be legally binding.


Always confirm in an agreement

Arranging a little via Whatsapp seems so easy. It may be the only option for you in the present circumstances. However, things could really go wrong if the other person goes back on their agreement and you have no prove. Hence, Miss Legal advises that you should try to put everything in written agreements as soon as you are able to. Put everything down on paper and be sure that the other person knows what is expected of him / her. Did you get a deal via whatsapp? Always confirm it on the mail and ask for the confirmation.


And of course our BossGirls - would be happy to suggest an agreement or draft the paperwork for your agreement because you are a professional who is wise enough to have their legal affairs in order, right?



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