By Brett D. Watson, Cozen O’Connor

On January 19, 2023, the California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 4, issued a troubling decision regarding the evidentiary value of electronic signatures in Iyere v. Wise Auto Group.1

First, a caveat.  The troubling part is dicta, not the core decision.  The core decision is perfectly sound.  That said, the dicta is troubling enough to warrant this alert.

Plaintiffs, a group of employees, filed certain claims against their former employer, Wise Auto Group (WAG).  WAG moved to compel arbitration.  In opposition, Plaintiffs each filed nearly identical oppositions claiming that they did “not recall” signing the arbitration agreement.  The trial court denied the motion; WAG appealed.

The Court of Appeal soundly reversed, holding that Plaintiffs’ inability to recall signing the documents is largely irrelevant because they do not deny that their respective, personal signatures appear on the document.  Absent testimony that the physical signatures were forged or inauthentic, testimony that they did not recall signing is insufficient to create a factual dispute.

However, the Court of Appeal made it clear that this decision was based largely on the fact that the signatures were personal, physical signatures – not electronic signatures.  “While handwritten and electronic signatures once authenticated have the same legal effect, there is a considerable difference between the evidence needed to authenticate the two.  Authenticating an electronic signature if challenged can be quite daunting.”2  The Court of Appeal reasoned that an individual cannot confirm or deny the authenticity of an electronic signature simply by looking at the document.3    Accordingly, “the individual’s inability to recall signing electronically may reasonably be regarded as evidence that the person did not do so.”4  By contrast, a person “is capable of recognizing his or her own personal signature” and if “the individual does not deny that the handwritten signature is his or her own, that person’s failure to remember signing is of little or no significance.”5  

The Court of Appeal noted, but expressly disagreed with, a 2021 decision in a case styled Gamboa v. Northeast Community Clinic.6  The Gamboa court stated that physical versus electronic signatures are a “distinction without a legal difference” because “electronic and handwritten signatures have the same legal effect and are equally enforceable.”7  

This line of cases is one to keep a close eye on.  Until this issue is fleshed out and more clearly resolved, consider mandating that all agreements (such as arbitration agreements, in which authenticity is frequently called into question) be signed with physical signatures.


 1Iyere v. Wise Auto Group, 2023 WL 314122 (2023).

 2Id. at *6 (emphasis added).

 3Id. at *5.

 4Id. at *5.

 5Id. at *5.

 6Gamboa v. Northeast Community Clinic (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 158

 7Id. at *5.


The article was originally published on January 24, 2023, on

Brett D. Watson is a commercial litigator who practices in Cozen O’Connor’s Santa Monica office, where he also serves as Chair of the firm’s Retail Banking Practice.  For more than two decades, top banks, credit card issuers, and financial institutions across the United States have called upon him to litigate issues relating to the full spectrum of their retail financial products.  Brett be reached at (213) 892-7938 or 

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The Century City Bar Association hopes that everyone is having a wonderful 2023 thus far.  For those who were able to attend our Banquet at the end of last year, thank you for your support and we hope that you enjoyed the event as much as we did. 

We were thrilled to honor the following outstanding lawyers at the Banquet:

Transportation Lawyer of the Year – Wesley D. Hurst, Polsinelli

Corporate Bankruptcy Lawyer of the Year – John N. Tedford, Danning Gill Israel & Krasnoff, LLP

Trial Lawyer of the Year – Jack S. Yeh, Sidley Austin  LLP

Next Generation Lawyer of the Year – Ashley Morris, Weinberg Gosner Frost LLP

Trusts and Estates Litigation Attorney of the Year – Lisa C. McCurdy, Greenberg Traurig, LLP

We were also delighted to have Judge Christine Byrd as our first recipient of the The Jane Shay Wald Service Award.  The CCBA is grateful for her countless hours of dedication to the CCBA and the Los Angeles legal community.  

For those who were unable to attend the Banquet, here are some photographs that capture some of the fun of the event:

For the upcoming year, the CCBA is in the process of planning amazing speakers, MCLE events, and networking events for its members, both virtually and in person, so make sure to look out for alerts from the CCBA for these upcoming events.  We currently have scheduled on April 6, 2023, a very relevant and interesting virtual CLE, “Your Home is Spying on You: A Look at Internet of Things Forensics,” being presented by Brian Chase of Archer Hall.  We hope you can join us for this free CLE.   We are also working on dates for a mental health panel and our annual Constitutional Law luncheon, so look out for updates on those two events as well.  

The link to register for the CLE event and other future events can be found on our website:, and on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.  We look forward to seeing everyone this year at the upcoming events.  And always feel free to email us with suggestions or questions at,, or


Brett Taylor, President

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