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Explore the BoldSign features that make eSigning easier.

With the quick advancement of technology, there has been a greater need for a modern technique to approve signatories to a document. This necessity has greatly predisposed the idea of having an electronic signature in Kenya and worldwide.

It is recommended to opt for an eSignature solution that complies with Kenyan legislation, specifically the Kenya Information and Communication Act, which gives eSignatures legal parity with handwritten ones. However, some documents might need a physical signature, and local laws may vary.

Security is paramount. The chosen eSignature 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, eSignatures offer significant advantages and are widely accepted, but adherence to legal norms, ensuring security, and selecting a user-friendly service is critical for their successful integration in Kenya.

Under the guidelines for electronic signatures in Kenya, an electronic signature is defined as an electronic information component that is attached to or linked with other electronic data to establish the identity of the signer in relation to the message and to demonstrate the signer’s approval of the information contained within the message. In Kenya, such electronic signatures are legally recognized on most types of documents, provided they can be unequivocally linked to the individual signing, and there is proof to verify their legitimacy, safeguarding against any modifications or fraudulent activities. The intention of the signer to authenticate the document must be clear, reflecting a deliberate consent to the terms outlined in the document. Once these conditions are met, electronic signatures are deemed to have the same legal standing as wet-ink signatures.

Electronic signatures (eSignatures) come in various forms and can be used to indicate Agreement or approval of electronic documents and transactions. Here are some common forms of electronic signatures:

Generally, in Kenya, eSignature is considered legal. However new the concept might seem, it has achieved vast development in the legal realm, with the most recent being the Business Laws Amendment Act1 of 2020. The Act aimed to introduce amendments to acts such as:

The amendments made in these acts primarily sought to recognize electronic signatures, which was not the case then. However, the primary statute that oversees the operations of electronic signatures in Kenya is:

  • The Kenya Information and Communication Act

The Act regulates electronic and certificate-based digital signatures2. The Act categorizes eSignatures in two:

  • Simple Electronic Signatures
  • Advanced Electronic Signatures

A simple electronic signature is an information in electronic form attached to or digitally linked with other electronic information that may be used to identify a signatory concerning the data message and to show the signatory’s endorsement confined in the note. This may be in the form of a photographic image of one’s signature or typing one’s name in an electronic document.

Advanced electronic signatures [digital signatures] are defined as a form of electronic signature (Simple Electronic Signatures) meeting requirements such as3:

  • It must be uniquely linked to the signatory.
  • Can identify the signatory.
  • Be created using means that the signatory can maintain in their control.
  • Be connected to the data it relates to so that any subsequent change is detectable.

Uniquely linked to a person

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.

Use and incorporation, their sole control

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.

Identify the person using technological process

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 a company registration number.

Easy to track down alterations made after signing

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 place of signature.

The Kenya Information and Communications Act, No. 2 of 1998 (KICA)4 identifies the use of advanced electronic signatures in Kenya as equal to traditional handwritten signatures ordinarily denoted as wet ink signatures under section 83P.

Types of signature Statute and section Unique features
Simple Electronic Signatures Kenya Information and Communication Act No. 2 of 1998. Section 2, (1)
  • No unique feature other than being data in electronic form.
Advanced Electronic Signatures
  • Uniquely linked to the signatory.
  • Can identify the signatory.
  • Means of creation in the signatory’s sole control.
  • Attached to the data it relates to so that any subsequent change to the data is detectable.

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, 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.

Exempted transactions

The Kenya Information and Communication Act, under Section 3, specifies restrictions on the use of electronic signatures, stating that they are not permissible for certain applications.

  • Wills
  • Title documents
  • Negotiable instruments
Transactions that can be completed in Exempted Transactions
  • Human Resources
  • Procument
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements (assuming they are contracts, not formal deeds)
  • Software License Agreements
  • Public Petitions
  • Insurance Industry
  • Educational Field, etc.
  • Wills
  • Title documents - deeds.
  • Employment termination notices.
  • Negotiable instruments, e.g.
    • Cheques
    • Money orders
    • Certificates of deposit
    • Promissory notes, etc.

The primary legislation governing information and communication in Kenya is the Kenya Information and Communication Act. This Act is complemented by additional parliamentary statutes that function in various roles in conjunction with it. Among these supplementary laws that regulate the application of electronic signatures in Kenya are the Evidence Act, specifically under Sections 106C and 106D, the Stamp Duty Act under Section 119, and the Land Registration Act No. 3 of 2012, particularly within Sections 44 and 45.

Legislation Section Provision
Kenya Information and Communications Act, No. 2 of 1998 Section 83P Advanced eSignature bears the same legal validity as a wet ink signature.
Section 83B Transactions that cannot be completed in eSignature. [Wills, title documents, and negotiable instruments.]
Evidence Act Section 106C and 106D Evidentiary validity of electronic signatures and documents in court.
Stamp Duty Act Cap 480 Laws of Kenya Section 119 Introduction and use of electronic stamping.
Land Registration Act No. 3 of 2012 Section 44 Clarifies that documents signed with an advanced electronic signature by a consenting person are valid. [exemptions to be considered]

To guarantee the legitimacy of an electronic signature, it is recommended to adopt the following best practices while also ensuring compliance with all relevant legal provisions:

The following elements of compliance available within BoldSign can be used to comply with Kenyan eSignature laws:

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

However, Syncfusion’s officers, directors, stockholders, affiliates, attorneys, accountants, employees, or agents cannot provide legal advice. You should consult your 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.’

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