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Explore the BoldSign features that make eSigning easier.

Electronic signatures have streamlined the document verification process, enhancing efficiency both within the EU and globally. These digital methods facilitate swift, environmentally friendly signings, cutting down on paper and expediting deals. Nevertheless, when implementing electronic signatures in the EU, it’s vital to grasp essential factors.

It’s advisable to choose an electronic signature service that adheres to EU laws [Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation] for transactions within it, giving electronic signatures legal parity with handwritten ones. However, some documents might need a physical signature, and local laws may vary, so consult a legal expert.

Security is paramount. The chosen electronic signature provider must offer robust protection, including encryption, authentication, and audit trails, to prevent unauthorized access and ensure document authenticity. Services such as BoldSign provide these security measures to meet compliance and safety needs.

Ultimately, electronic signatures offer significant advantages and are widely accepted. Still, adherence to legal norms, ensuring security, and selecting a user-friendly service is vital for their successful integration into the EU.

Under the regulations of the European Union on electronic signatures, they are defined as electronic data connected to or logically linked with additional electronic data utilized by the signatory for signing. In the European Union, these types of signatures are considered legally binding on most documents as long as they can be unequivocally linked to the individual signing, and there is proof to verify their legitimacy, ensuring the document has not been tampered with or counterfeited. Additionally, the signatory’s intention to sign must be clear, indicating deliberate consent to the conditions outlined in the document. Provided these conditions are met, electronic signatures are accorded the same legal standing as their handwritten counterparts.

An electronic signature encompasses a variety of digital forms attached to an electronic document or procedure. These forms can be:

  • Using app login credentials to give permissions.
  • Signing with a stylus or finger on a touchscreen device.
  • Entering a name into an email as a form of signing off.
  • Confirming agreement on a web page with a click post-verification.
  • Adding a digitized image of a handwritten signature.
  • Employing a spoken command to serve as an oral consent.

Operations entailing the use of electronic signatures within the 27 member states of the European Union are regulated by the:

  • Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation [eIDAS]1
  • E-Commerce Directive [2000/31/EC]

As a rule, the regulation deems the use of electronic signatures legal in the completion of transactions. Electronic signatures under the regulation are categorized into three categories:

  • Simple Electronic Signature
  • Advances Electronic Signature
  • Qualified Electronic Signature

This is explained as an electronic signature meeting the requirements set out in Article 262. It decrees that Advanced Electronic Signature must be:

  • Uniquely linked to the signatory.
  • Capable of identifying the signatory.
  • Created using means that the signatory can maintain his control.
  • Linked to the data it relates to so that any subsequent change to the data is detectable.

A secure electronic signature must be uniquely connected to the person using it. The signature must be uniquely made with methods only the signer can access, like a private key and confidential info, to verify their identity.

The person using the secure electronic signature must have sole control over the means of creating the signature. Typically, this requires managing a key pair or two-factor authentication, with the signer exclusively holding the private key to prevent signature forgery.

The process used to create the signature must be capable of identifying the person signing. This may include using a biometric signature, a Personal Identification Number (PIN), an email address or even a company registration number.

It is essential to preserve the authenticity of the signed document. Modifications made to the document post-signature should be identifiable. This is commonly accomplished through an audit trail. Audit trails record the signer’s IP address, timestamps of key signing events, and location, providing proof of identity, timing, and signature place.

This is an advanced electronic signature that is generated using a certified device for creating electronic signatures and relies on an accredited certificate specific to electronic signatures.

Article 323 sets out a validation set of standards to be met by the one for a qualified electronic signature. These are:

  • Statutory compliant certificate at the time of signing.
  • A qualified trust service provider issued a certificate that was valid when signing.
  • Signature validation data corresponds to the data provided to the relying party.
  • The unique set of data representing the signatory in the certificate was correctly provided to the relying party.
  • The use of any pseudonym is clearly indicated to the relying party if a pseudonym was used at the time of signing.
  • The electronic signature is of a qualified electronic signature creation device.
  • The integrity of the signed data has not been compromised.
  • Meets validity standards of an advanced electronic signature.
Type of Signature Statute and Sections of relevant laws Unique Features Legal Validity
Simple Electronic Signature Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation. Article 26
  • No unique feature other than being data in electronic form.
  • Validity is dependent on the evidentiary weight.
Advances Electronic Signature
  • Uniquely linked to the signatory.
  • Capable of identifying the signatory.
  • Created using means that the signatory can maintain his control.
  • Linked to the data it relates to so that any subsequent change to the data is detectable.
  • Validity is dependent on evidentiary weight across jurisdictions.
Qualified Electronic Signature Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation. Article 32 & 26
  • Certificate compliant with laws provided at signing.
  • Trust service provider issued a valid certificate at signing.
  • Signature validation matches the data given to the recipient.
  • The signatory's unique data is accurately given to the recipient.
  • Any pseudonym used is disclosed to the recipient.
  • Signature made with a qualified electronic signature device.
  • Signed data integrity maintained.
  • Meets all features of Advanced electronic signature.
  • Deemed valid in jurisdictions across the E.U.
  • Deemed valid in all others.

Electronic signature transactions and their utilization do not have universal legal acceptance for document finalization. Consequently, there are specific types of transactions and uses for which electronic signatures are suitable, and others are not. Below is an analysis of this matter, accompanied by a summarized table of the transactions.

Electronic signatures can be employed to affix signatures and provide countersignatures on a diverse array of documents, such as:

  • Human resources
  • Procurement
  • Non-disclosure agreements (assuming they are contracts, not formal deeds)
  • Software license agreements
  • Public petitions
  • Insurance industry
  • Educational field, etc.

Even though the eIDAS does not expressly provide for any transactions which are excluded from being completed by electronic signature, a collective effort of the states saw the establishment of the E-Commerce Directive [2000/31/EC]4.

The directive under Section 3 Article 9 gives member states a list of transactions that may be excluded from the electronic execution model. This, therefore, allows each member to choose the transactions that may be exempted from using an electronic signature. These transactions are:

  • Contacts that create or transfer rights in real estate except rental rights.
  • Contacts requiring by law the involvement of courts, public authorities or professions executing public authority such as Legal representation services and Notary Services.
  • Contracts of suretyship.
  • Contracts governed by family law or succession law, such as wills.

It should, however, be noted that the position varies across the 27 member states.

Transactions that can be used
[Under the eIDAS]
[subject to the jurisdiction laws]
Exempted transactions.
[Under Section 3 Article 9 of the E-Commerce Directive [2000/31/EC]]
[For EU cross-border transactions]
  • Human resources
  • Procurement
  • Non-disclosure agreements (assuming they are contracts, not formal deeds)
  • Software license agreements
  • Insurance industry
  • Educational field
  • Public petitions
  • Documentation for registration, etc.
  • Legal representation services.
  • Services of notaries or equivalent professions.
  • Contracts requiring in-person witnessing.
  • Contracts that create or transfer rights in real estate.
  • Family law contracts such as wills.

To ensure the authenticity of an electronic signature, it’s advisable to follow these best practices in addition to complying with all applicable legal requirements:

  • Confirm the signer's identity and, in situations involving business dealings, verify that the individual is duly authorized to act on behalf of the company in affixing their signature.
  • Secure explicit agreement from the individual signing, which may be incorporated in the contract itself or in a separate accord, to signify their intention to use the specified electronic signature for the document in question.
  • Safeguard the document to prevent any modifications after the application of the signature.
  • Keep an exhaustive log of the signing procedure, recording each step the signer performs.

The following elements of compliance available within BoldSign can be used to comply with European Union electronic signature laws:

  • Secure and unique signing link: A secure and unique link to sign a document is sent directly to the signer's email address. This helps ensure that the document is only accessed by the intended signer and cannot be tampered with.
  • Password protection: Senders can specify a password that needs to be entered before viewing and signing a document. This adds a layer of security to the signing process.
  • Audit trail: The signer's IP address and timestamps for all significant events in the signing process are recorded in an audit trail. This provides a record of who signed the document when they signed it, and from where they signed it.
  • Digital signature: The final signed document is digitally signed with an AATL compliant certificate. This ensures that the document cannot be tampered with without invalidating the signature.
  • Consent: Signers are asked to confirm their intent to sign electronically and are also informed that they have an option to opt out. This helps to ensure that the signer is aware of the implications of signing electronically and that they have given their consent to do so.
  • Custom terms: There is an option to get your signers to agree to a custom set of terms. This can be useful for adding additional security or ensuring that the signer understands the terms of the document.

Disclaimer: Information on this page is intended to help businesses understand the legal framework of electronic signatures for this particular country.

However, Syncfusion, its officers, directors, stockholders, affiliates, attorneys, accountants, employees or agents cannot provide legal advice. You should consult your own personal attorney regarding your specific legal questions. Laws and regulations change frequently, and this information may not be current or accurate. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Syncfusion provides this material on an “as-is” basis. Syncfusion disclaims and makes no representation or warranty of any kind with respect to this material, express, implied or statutory, including representations, guarantees or warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or accuracy.

Syncfusion makes no warranties of any kind, including but not limited to the information or the product, whether express, implied, statutory or otherwise. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Syncfusion disclaims all conditions, representations and warranties, whether express, implied or statutory with respect to this information without limitation any implied warranty of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, accuracy or currentness of this information.

Syncfusion nor their officers, directors, stockholders, employees, affiliates, attorneys, accountants or agents shall be entitled to indemnification, express or implied, contractual or statutory, equitable or otherwise, under this Agreement.

1 http://data.europa.eu/eli/reg/2014/910/oj
2 Ibid
3 Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation
4 http://data.europa.eu/eli/dir/2000/31/oj