Legal26 June, 2013

Legality of e-signatures

For legal departments, trying to collect a signature on a contract is often a waiting game. It can take days or weeks to chase down the signer, costing businesses time and money. What’s worse, delaying the approval of a contract due to signature-collecting problems, can drive the business to lose lucrative deals!

Thanks to e-signatures, you can execute contracts and agreements with confidence without the hassle of signing and exchanging paper documents back and forth with all parties involved. By implementing e-signatures, legal departments can ensure that, 

  • contracts are signed by all parties involved
  • contracts are not approved by unauthorised people
  • contracts have defined dates for obligations, renewals and closure etc
  • contracts are executed only upon approval

e-signatures for internal approval and signatures

With e-signatures, companies can digitalise the internal signatures of official documents like contract approvals and resolutions. The workflow engine and the audit trail together with role-based access control provide a very solid internal e-signature platform. 

Laws enabling legally binding e-signatures have been passed around the world giving documents executed with e-signatures the same legal validity and enforceability of traditionally signed documents. Some examples of international legislation include:

  • Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN)
  • Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)
  • European Directive (EC/1999/93)

Signature authentication for external contracts

Most e-signature providers authenticate the document signers based on their General Terms. For an example: “Any person signing a document must either have login information or have received a “request for signature” email”. 

Signature affixation

Next to the authentication of the Signer, each signature on a contract is in most cases affixed to the contract. When you request a signature, the service provider affixes a Signature Certificate to the contract itself. The Signature Certificate includes an audit trail, unique document identification, and several pieces of user identification data. 

Contract enforceability

The service provider keeps your contracts secure and prevents tampering of the contract during and after the signing process. Most providers create a unique record of the underlying document before either party signs it and then a separate unique record of the underlying document that contains all the signatures. 

Court-admissible transactions log

The service providers create a comprehensive transaction trail between signing parties. They provide you with a transaction history, and track and timestamp various information from the moment the document is submitted for signature to when it is completely signed and secured, such as IP information.

In today’s fast-moving business environment, legal departments cannot afford to waste time distributing, printing, scanning and signing documents. Implementing e-signatures make collecting signatures on contracts, agreements and legal documents quick and secure, while protecting confidential information.

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