Are electronic signatures legal across the world? The simplest answer to this question is yes.
There are many countries, 60 to be price, which has passed laws to make electronic signatures fully legal and admissible by law. These legislations provide e-signatures a solid foundation to stand on.
Without these laws, businesses especially the e-commerce industry which relies heavily on e-signatures and transactions would certainly collapse.
Signing legal documents electronically has become very commonplace these days due to advancements in technology. Some countries that have passed laws to make e-signatures such as a PDF signature legally binding are as under.
Electronic Signatures are fully Legal in the United States
Are electronic signatures legally binding in the United States of America? Thanks to the ESIGN Act, enacted in 200, they are.
In fact, ESIGN was the first ever act in the history of American that gave legal status to documents and contracts signed through electronic signatures.
Furthermore, both handwritten and electronic signatures enjoy the same status in the country.
Are Electronic Signatures Legal in the UK?
The rules regarding electronic signatures in United Kingdome are similar to that of the United States.
In the UK, Electronic Signatures Regulation Act 2002 regulates all the online transactions and contracts having e-signatures. Similarly, e-signatures are legally binding in the UK thanks to the Electronic Communications Act, also passed in 2002.
In Canada, the rules regarding electronic signatures are slightly different to the USA and UK. In Canada, both parties must agree to accept the legality of electronic signatures to make the electronically signed document legally binding.
Similarly, the handwritten and electronic signatures are treated equally in Canada thanks to Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
Electronic Signatures in Australia
Apart from signatures related to migration and citizenship, all types of e-signatures are acceptable in the court as proof. The major act regulating e-signatures and online documentation and transactions is the Electronic Transactions Act of 1999.
However, different states have a different take on the legality of e-signatures related to power of attorney agreements, wills, and real estate.
China and the Russian Federation
Are electronic signatures legally binding and enforceable in China and Russia? Yes, they are because of laws like Electronic Signatures Law of the Republic of China.
However, in China, handwritten signatures are still considered superior to electronic signatures. Similarly, they are not likely to be credible in contracts regarding marriages, inheritance, adaptation and real estate.
As far as Russia is concerned, contracts don’t need to have handwritten signatures to be legal. They can use e-signatures while signing legal documents. In some cases, they can verbally reach an agreement as well.
Electronic Signatures in the European Union
As mentioned above, electronic signatures are legal in the UK. What about their status in countries which are part of the European Union.
In such countries, all concerned must agree in advance before signing a contract to make e-signatures legally admissible. Electronic Identification and Authentication Services Regulation is the act which regulates e-signatures in these countries.
Other Countries with E-Signature Regulations
Other notable countries where e-signatures are legal to include Brazil, India, South Korea, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Japan etc. Similarly, countries like Pakistan, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Malaysia have also adopted some sort of electronic signature legislation.
Are electronic signatures in legally binding in Peru? Law No. 27269 of Peru lays out the rights of the owner of the digital signature. Signing legal documents digitally is allowed as long as the document meets all the normal requirements of the law.
In Argentina, there is a Digital Signature Law which was sanctioned in 2001. The charter states that when the law requires a legally binding signature, that requirement is also satisfied by a digital signature.
In Brazil, a similar law was passed in 2006, it is Law No. 11.419 of December 19, 2001. The provisions of this law considered electronic signatures as a form of unambiguous identification of the signatory. It stated that in sending petitions, resources and practice of procedural acts in a generally digital way, the use of electronic signatures would be accepted.
A recent bill in Chile called Law No. 20,217 modified the code of civil procedure as regards to electronic signatures. The provision it makes is that an electronic signature has the same probative value that corresponds to a handwritten signature.
The latest law on electronic signature in Colombia is the Decree 2364 of 2012 National Level. The decree states that electronic signatures which allow the identification of a person so long as it is reliable and appropriate with respect to the for which the information is used has legality. That electronic signature will have the same validity and legal effects as a handwritten signature.
Electronic Signatures are fully Legal in other parts of Asia
Are electronic signatures legal in Asian countries? Yes, they are in parts of Asia. The legal electronic signature example would be Malaysia. The Digital Signature Act of 1997 came into effect in Malaysia on 1st October 1998.
It had the purpose of regulating the use of digital signatures in Malaysia to ensure the security of legal issues related to electronic transactions. In section 65 it stipulates the effects of a digital signature and confirms its legality.
In South Korea, The Digital Signature Act was set up first in 1999 and most recently amended in 2008. It was made to establish the basic framework for the system of digital signatures in order to secure the safety and reliability of electronic messages and to aid in promoting their use. The bill ensures the legality of electronic signatures.
Under the Electronic Transactions Ordinance (ETO) in Hong Kong, electronic signatures are stated undeniably to have the same legal status as paper-based signatures. Electronic signatures have been legal in India after the passing the Information Technology Act in 2000. The law states in part that electronic signatures are legally admissible even in courts. The law also clearly states the mandate by which electronic signatures might be used such in signing documents and filling of forms.
In 2008, Indonesia passed a law called the Electronic information and transactions bill. In this law, the legality of electronic signatures was made clear. And in Taiwan, Article 9 of the Electronic Signatures Act states that the law requires a seal or signature with the consent of the other party. This is can be satisfied by using an electronic signature.