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Explore the BoldSign features that make eSigning easier.

The advent of electronic signatures has transformed the way documents are authenticated, streamlining the process of finalizing agreements both within Italy and on a global scale. These digital methods facilitate rapid, environmentally friendly signing processes, cutting down on paper consumption and expediting deal closures. Nevertheless, it’s vital to grasp the critical factors when implementing electronic signatures in Italy.

Users should choose an electronic signature solution adhering to Italy’s Legislative Decree No. 82/2005 (Digital Administration Code) and the Civil Code, which recognizes electronic signatures as legally equivalent to handwritten ones. Some documents may require manual signatures, and local legal differences should be considered.

Ensuring robust security measures is equally important. The chosen electronic signature provider should offer comprehensive protection actions such as encryption, identity verification, and detailed audit trails to prevent unauthorised access and preserve the integrity of the documents. Platforms like BoldSign are equipped with these security provisions to uphold compliance and safeguard the signing process.

In summary, while electronic signatures offer numerous advantages and are widely accepted, it is critical to adhere to legal requirements, prioritise security, and select a user-friendly platform for successful deployment in Italy.

Under Italian Regulations, electronic signature is defined as electronic data that is connected to or logically linked with additional electronic data utilised by the signatory for the purpose of signing1. In Italy, these types of signatures are legally binding on most documents as long as they can be unequivocally linked to the individual signing. There is proof to verify their legitimacy, ensuring the document has not been tampered with or counterfeited. Additionally, it is essential that the signatory’s intention to sign is 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 digitised image of a handwritten signature.
  • Employing a spoken command to serve as an oral consent.

Like many of the European Union member states, Italy has their electronic signature regulation models shaped by Regulation No. 910/2014, also known as the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation [eIDAS]2.

Acknowledging its responsibility as a part of the European Union, the Italian government enacted Legislative Decree No. 82/2005, known as the Digital Administration Code (DAC), establishing guidelines for managing electronic signature transactions within the country.

Generally, electronic signatures are deemed to hold legal validity as wet ink signatures with limitations given to specific transactions. Under the Italian legal system, the operations of electronic signature are controlled by:

  • Digital Administration Code (DAC) - Legislative Decree No. 82/2005
  • FederaL Civil Code
  • Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation [eIDAS]

electronic signatures under the regulations are categorised into three categories:

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

The decree defines a digital signature as a particular type of signature qualified based on a system of cryptographic keys, a public and a private, correlated with each other, allowing the holder through the private key and the recipient through the public key, respectively, to make it clear and to authenticate the origin and the authenticity and wholeness of a digital document or collection of digital documents.

Advanced electronic signature is explained under Article 1 of the Legislative Decree No. 82/2005, the Digital Administration Code (DAC) as read with Article 263 of the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation [eIDAS]. 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 own 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 unauthorized 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.

Qualified electronic signature is defined as an advanced electronic signature created by a qualified electronic signature creation device based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures.

Type of signature Section of statute /relevant legislation Unique features
Standard Electronic Signature (SES) Legislative Decree No. 82/2005, the Digital Administration Code (DAC). Art 1

Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation [eIDAS]. Art 26
N/A
Advanced Electronic Signature (AES)
  • Uniquely linked to the signatory.
  • Capable of identifying the signatory.
  • Created using means that the signatory can maintain his own control.
  • Linked to the data it relates to so that any subsequent change to the data is detectable.
Qualified Electronic Signature (QES)
  • Created by a qualified electronic signature creation device.
  • Based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures.
  • Meets all the standards of Advanced electronic signature.

Electronic signature use isn’t legally recognized for all document types. Some transactions are appropriate for electronic signatures, while others aren’t. Below is a brief analysis and a summary table of these transactions.

Transactions that may be allowed
[Federal laws]
Prohibited transactions
[Federal Civil Code. Art. 1350]
  • Memoranda & internal correspondences
  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Purchase orders
  • HR
  • Procurement
  • Public petitions
  • Offer letter
  • Employee onboarding
  • End user agreements
  • Contracts for the transfer of property ownership.
  • Agreements for the stamping of lease funds.
  • Pledges of possession for secured properties.
  • Contracts for extended use of property.
  • Deeds for permanent or lifetime income.
  • Transactions involving legal disputes.
  • Property rental agreements exceeding nine months.

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

  • Legal opinions
  • Offer letters
  • Public petitions
  • Memoranda & internal correspondences
  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Purchase orders
  • HR
  • Procurement
  • Employee onboarding
  • End user agreements, etc.

Sec. 1350 of the Italian Civil Code limits the operation of electronic signature and, to that effect, exempts certain transactions such as:

  • Contracts Transferring ownership of immovable property.
  • Written pledge and transfer from a debtor to a creditor of possession of immovable property.
  • Contracts of companies or associations conferring the enjoyment of immovable property or other rights in rem in immovable property for a period exceeding nine years or for an indefinite period.
  • Agreements that establish, alter, or convey the right of use and enjoyment of real estate, the entitlement to land, the privileges of the property provider, and the lessee's rights.
  • Acts constituting perpetual or life annuities.
  • Transactions involving disputes relating to the legal relationships mentioned.
  • Lease of immovable property for more than nine months.

Caution should also be taken when dealing with formal notarial processes.

To ensure an electronic signature’s validity while complying with legal requirements.an individual should be able to and adopt best practices such as:

  • Establishing the legitimacy and authorization of the signatory: This involves implementing stringent procedures to authenticate the identity of individuals signing on behalf of themselves or an entity. For businesses, this step may include verifying the individual's position within the company and their delegated power to sign documents, ensuring they have the proper authorization to enter into binding agreements on the company's behalf.
  • Obtaining clear and unambiguous agreement for the use of electronic signatures: It is critical to secure informed consent from all parties involved before utilizing electronic signatures. This means explaining the implications of an electronic signature, how it will be used, and the legal equivalency to a handwritten signature, thereby ensuring that all parties are fully aware and agreeable to the electronic signing process.
  • Ensuring the integrity of the signed document post-execution: Once a document has been signed electronically, measures must be taken to safeguard it from any unauthorized alterations. This can involve the use of digital tools that lock the document's content and track any attempts at modifications, thereby maintaining the document's integrity and ensuring it remains legally enforceable.
  • Maintaining a detailed log of the electronic signing activity: Keeping a robust and detailed audit trail is essential for validating the signing process. This record should include timestamps, IP addresses, signer authentication methods, and any other relevant information that documents the entire signing event. Such records are crucial for providing evidence of the signing process's legitimacy and can be invaluable in the event of a legal dispute or audit.

The judicial pronouncement rendered in Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) No. 70/ 19.02.2014, articulates a definitive legal position with respect to the status of electronic documents in the context of evidentiary value. According to this pronouncement, an electronic document that has been authenticated using a qualified electronic signature is to be regarded, in terms of its legal standing and for the purposes of serving as evidence, as being on par with a traditional document bearing a handwritten signature. Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Cassation clarifies that an electronic document which is endorsed with a simple electronic signature can also be treated as equivalent to its physically signed counterpart, provided there exists a mutual agreement between the involved parties that the simple electronic signature shall be accepted as a valid substitute for a wet-ink signature. This judicial interpretation ensures that electronic documents, when signed in either manner, are given the same weight and consideration as their physical counterparts when presented as evidence in legal proceedings.

The following elements of compliance available within BoldSign can be used to comply with Italian 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 to ensure that the document is only accessed by the intended signer and that it cannot be tampered with.
  • Password protection: Senders can specify a password that needs to be entered before viewing and signing a document. This adds an additional layer of security to the signing process.
  • Audit trail: The IP address of the signer along with timestamps for all major 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 with respect 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 Legislative Decree No. 82/2005, the Digital Administration Code (DAC). Art 1
Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation [eIDAS]. Art 26
2 http://data.europa.eu/eli/reg/2014/910/oj
3 Ibid