E signature technology advancements removes location barriers and speeds up the delivery of business transactions. According to CSO figures in 2017, over half of large enterprises conduct their sales electronically. E Signatures enables companies of all sizes to streamline the contract signing process. Businesses that have moved to e signatures have discovered it is more secure and reduces the impact on natural resources.
The growth in using this technology to conduct business demands advancement in the law, and so this new EU regulation which launched on the 1st July 2016 increases the viability of e-signatures.
This EU regulation was brought in to replace the Electronic Commerce Act 2000, which had become outdated in advancements.
It now requires all member states of the EU to accept any means of e-ID as a legal form of identification. E-Signatures cannot be denied purely on the basis that they are in an electronic form.
The new Regulation identifies and defines the different types of e signatures that are recognised by the law. Each of the three forms of electronic signature outlined in the original act is all now admissible as evidence in EU courts.
The new Regulation distinguishes three types of electronic signatures:
- Simple E Signature
These are data in electronic form which are attached to or logically associated with other electronic data and used for signing purposes, such as typed signatures.
- Advanced E Signature
These are electronic signatures which are uniquely linked to the signatory. They are capable of identifying the signatory and are designed using signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his/her sole control.
- Qualified E Signature
These are electronic signatures created by a ‘qualified electronic creation device’ and are based on a ‘qualified certificate’ for e-signatures.
The Regulation also introduces an EU ‘Trust Mark’ for qualified trust services. Once a trust service provider has acquired ‘qualified’ status from the national supervisory body, it may use the EU Trust Mark to indicate this status.
Other electronic services covered by eIDAS include electronic seals (for companies), electronic time stamps, electronic documents, the certainty of qualified cross-border electronic delivery and website authentication. The eIDAS Regulation requires the EU Member States to designate a supervisory body to oversee qualified trust service providers.
There are a number of document business solutions to assist with the collection and secure storing of e signatures. If you are employing one of these solutions, ensure the business has precautions to adhere to Irish law.
If you have any questions over a signature dispute, contact the team.