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Ohio Court of Appeals Rules Unsigned Credit Card Agreements Can Be Written Contracts

In a recent decision, the Ohio Court of Appeals considered the question whether, for the purpose of determining the applicable statute of limitations, an unsigned credit card agreement constituted a written or oral contract.

In Ohio, the statute of limitations is eight years for a written contract and six years for an oral contract. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2305.06, 2305.07.

A copy of the opinion in Unifund CCR Partners v. Piaser is available at:  Link to Opinion.

The Court noted that existing Ohio law was unclear on the written versus oral contract issue, and that previous decisions had determined only “that a consumer’s use of a credit card subjects him to a binding contract, which is governed by the terms of the agreement.” Am. Express Travel Related Servs. v. Silverman, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 06AP-338, 2006-Ohio-6374; Calvary SPV I, LLC v. Furtado, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 05AP-361, 2005-Ohio-6884.

The credit agreement in question provided that use of the card by the consumer would evidence acceptance of the terms of the agreement.  Explaining that parties can bind themselves to written contracts without providing physical signatures, the Court stated:

In the case of credit cards, a binding contract does not arise from signing anything, but rather is established by the act of using the credit card. It cannot be plausibly argued that the conscious decision to use the credit card is not a conscious agreement to accept the terms and conditions of the written Account Agreement. Only a lawyer could argue that the written Account Agreement is not a written contract.

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