The digitisation of companies has accelerated, and digital tools streamline management and optimise company resources. One of those tools is the electronic signature. In this post, we talk about the legal validity of the electronic signature within the European Union framework and how it is governed.

Who regulates the electronic signature requirements in Europe?

The Regulation of electronic signatures in the European Union is established under Regulation 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council, July 23, 2014, regarding electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market. This Regulation is known as eIDAS.

As a regulation, it is applied directly in all the member states of the European Union.

In this sense, the eIDAS Regulation regulates three types of signatures:

A Simple electronic signature, the data in the electronic format attached to other electronic data or logically associated with them that the signatory uses to sign”.

Advanced electronic signature: must meet the specific requirements of article 26 of the Regulation:

Be linked to the signatory uniquely

Allow the identification of the signer

Have been created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can use, with a high level of confidence, under their sole control

Have been created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can use, with a high level of confidence, under their sole control.

Qualified electronic signature “an advanced electronic signature that is created using a qualified signature creation device and that is based on a qualified electronic signature certificate”.

The main difference between the three types of signature is the level of security they provide, so choosing the appropriate type of signature will depend on the type of document you want to sign.

As a result of the foregoing, the validity of the electronic signature is recognised in Europe by the eIDAS Regulation that entered into force on July 1, 2016. It is applied directly in Spain and in all the member states of the European Union.

Regulation of the validity of the electronic signature

Article 25 of the eIDAS Regulation states that:

  1. An electronic signature shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic form or that it does not meet the requirements for qualified electronic signatures.
  2. A qualified electronic signature shall have the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature.
  3. A qualified electronic signature shall have the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature.

Therefore, an electronic signature may be used as valid evidence in a legal proceeding.

eIDAS Regulation was complimented on November 11, 2020, and the Spanish Parliament passed Spanish Act 6/2020 regulating certain aspects of electronic trust services, which in its article 3.1 also refers to the validity of the electronic signature and establishes that:

A new system governing the legal effects of electronic documents that are used to support public, administrative, and private documents, establishing that their value and effectiveness must be determined under the applicable law, according to their nature.

Also, the electronic trust services law regulates aspects such as:

– Verification of the identity and attributes of applicants for a qualified certificate.

– Determination of additional requirements for qualified certificates.

– Determination of additional requirements for qualified certificates.

– The sanctioning regime.

– The conditions for the suspension of the certificates.

Is the electronic signature valid in countries outside the EU?

Currently, the electronic signature is valid in many countries outside the European Union:

– In the United States, it is established that the electronic signature has the same validity as the paper signature. Therefore, the Regulation of the electronic signature is found in two regulations:

o Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA, 1999)

o Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN, 2000)

– At the international level, there are various regulations relating to the basic framework of electronic signatures, such as the guidelines of the OECD, UNCITRAL and the International Chamber of Commerce. Here are some examples of Regulation in other countries:

o Argentina. The electronic signature is regulated in the Digital Signature Law, which establishes the following: A digital signature is understood as applying a mathematical procedure to a digital document that requires information exclusively known to the signer, which is under their control.

Chile. It also has a specific law that regulates electronic signatures, electronic documents, and certification services. The law establishes the following: Art.3. The acts and contracts granted or entered into by natural or legal persons, signed using an electronic signature, will be valid in the same way and will produce the same effects as those entered into in writing and on paper.

Kuwait. The electronic signature is regulated in the Electronic Transactions Law.

Lebanon. The validity of the electronic signature is established in the law of electronic transactions and personal data.

As you have seen, the validity of the electronic signature is recognised in many countries both at the European level, and outside the EU, so many companies can use this means to speed up their procedures. Lleida.net electronic signature meets the requirements to be used in many countries.

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