Vijith Menon
by
Vijith Menon

Electronic signatures or e-signatures are in high demand among enterprises. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst in bringing about changes in internal operational processes. As companies have begun adapting electronic documentation to sort and manage files, e-signatures are being embraced to reach deals and agreements remotely. Small and medium enterprises are leveraging technology to streamline various verticals such as marketing and sales and improve overall business efficiency.

Although online signatures have countless benefits, they create a sentiment of apprehension owing to the sensitive nature of exchange. In order to ensure documents signed electronically stand up in court, just like their manual counterparts, laws have been passed and enforced by governments. If you are a business that has decided to integrate eSignatures into your workflows, read on to learn more about the international laws about using eSignatures.

Types of Laws

  • Prescriptive Laws – Prescriptive laws dictate the method used for electronically signing documents. It also dictates the types of e-signatures that are acceptable.
  • Minimalist Laws – Minimalist laws allow broad enforceability of e-signatures with minimum restriction. They grant all users across industries access and provide the highest security to information in electronic documents. These laws do not explicitly state technical requirements for e-signatures to be legally enforceable.
  • Two-tiered Laws – Two-tiered laws have strict requirements for e-signatures to be legally enforceable. They are enacted by many countries in the EU and Asia. Electronic signatures themselves are divided into standard electronic signatures (SES), advanced electronic signatures (AES), and qualified electronic signatures (QES).

Countries have made their laws or amended laws to ensure the protection of citizens and enterprises. Given below is a list of countries that recognize online signatures.

Electronic Signature Laws Globally

  • Argentina – The Digital Signature Law of 2001, also known as the Law on Digital Signature Nº 25.506, has been valid since 2012. It was used for signing HR documents and documents by public bodies. However, amendments such as Law 27,446 have made digital signatures legally binding in all private sectors using time stamping.
  • Australia – The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 passed by the Australian government recognizes all types of electronic signatures at federal and regional levels. Electronic signatures are eligible in the life sciences, technology, HR, healthcare, education, insurance, software licensing, and procurement sectors.
  • Canada – The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act passed in 2000 has been recognized by the federal government to be used for the provision of certain statutes. The provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta have modeled their eSignature laws on The Uniform Electronic Act (UECA) passed in 2000.
  • China – The Electronic Signature Law of the People’s Republic of China (“ESL”) was enacted in 2004, with significant revisions in 2015 and 2019 to recognize the validity of electronic signatures.
  • European Union – The European Directive 199/93/EC, or electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services (eIDAS), has made it mandatory for all states within the union to recognize e-signatures. This has made it easier to conduct online transactions between customers and businesses.
  • Hong Kong – The Electronic Transactions Ordinance (ETO) provides a framework for addressing the validity of electronic signatures, records, and contracts. Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, and 17 further expand on the authenticity and validity of electronic and digital signatures.
  • Japan – The Act on Electronic Signatures and Certification Business (“Act”) validates electronic signatures to be employed in business-to-business (B2B) transactions and general business contracts.
  • India – The Information Technology Act 2000 (“ITA”), the Indian Contract Act of 1872 (“ICA”), and the Electronic Signature or Electronic Authentication Technique and Procedure Rules, 2015 (“ESEATPR”) are relevant laws and policies used in regulating e-signatures in the country.
  • Mexico – The Federal Commerce Code and the Federal Civil Code are laws enforcing electronic signatures and electronic commerce in the country for private transactions.
  • Moldova - Law 124/2022 was passed by the Moldovan government in 2022, adhering to European norms. It governs electronic signatures and electronic identification and trust services for transactions within internal processes. The law is used for regulating advanced and qualified electronic signatures and excludes simple e-signatures.
  • New Zealand – The Electronic Transactions Act has recognized e-signatures in the country since 2002. The Contracts and Commercial Law Act 2017 protects businesses and validates the use of e-signatures.
  • Norway – The provisions of the EU Regulation No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (the eIDAS Regulation) are accountable for regulating and governing the use of e-signatures. It is currently applicable for documents such as chattel paper, banking, procurement, HR, insurance, education, life sciences, real estate, government filings, and others.
  • Russia – The Federal 63-FZ legally recognizes electronic signatures and their utility in transactions, provision of state and municipal services, and legal agreements.
  • Singapore – The Electronic Transactions Act of Singapore (ETA) governs the use of electronic signatures in the region. Electronic signatures are used to provide acknowledgments to signing parties. Documents accepting e-signatures include government filings, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), commercial agreements, resolutions, transferable documents, board meeting minutes, and others.
  • South Korea – The Digital Signature Act and The Korean Electronic Signature Act validate e-signatures and permit their use in any contract.
  • Thailand – Electronic signatures are governed under the Electronic Transactions Act (“ETA”). Licensing software, NDAs, consumer transactions, and recorded documents accept e-signatures.
  • The Philippines – The Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (E-Commerce Act) recognizes all electronic signatures as legally binding on electronic documents. The law validates the authenticity of electronic transactions between the government and the public as well as transactions, contracts, and international and domestic deals.
  • The US. – Electronic signatures are legally recognized by the ESIGN Act and state and territory versions of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“UETA”).
  • The UK – Laws such as Electronic Communications Act 2000, Electronic Signatures Regulation (“UK eIDAS Regulation”), and eIDAS are used in regulating the use of e-signatures.

Other countries that have adopted a form of esignature legislation are Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Montenegro, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republika Srpska, Romania, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Wales.

Also Read: 10 Frequently asked Questions about the use of ESignature!

The DrySign Experience

DrySign is an eSignature solution designed for organizations of all sizes to streamline their documentation workflows and signing processes. It complies with eSignature laws of major countries, namely the USA, the UK, India, the Philippines, France, and Germany, and provides a seamless signing experience for users. Using DrySign, you can effortlessly upload, sign, send, and receive signatures, and store documents on the cloud. Easy-to-use features like Group Sign, Bulk Upload, Customizable templates offer convenience to users. In addition, with two-factor authentication, password-protected documents, and SSL Certification to protect data, DrySign offers a formidable moat against online threats.

Conclusion

The electronic signature landscape will be highly regulated due to scores of users being dependent on technology and growing digitization. As companies transition to a paperless era, eSignature laws make it convenient and easy for businesses to prosper, at a fraction of the cost. At the same time, the onus also lies with modern businesses to embrace new technology, experiment, and re-innovate with digital tools like eSignature platforms to make informed choices for the future of their business.

Pick a DrySign Plan that suits you and transform your business!

Sources: mondaq.com | financesonline.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is for general information purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws governing the subject matter may change quickly, and Exela cannot guarantee that all the information on this site is current or correct. Should you have specific legal questions about any of the information on this site, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your area.

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