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Legal14 December, 2021

The 3 types of eSignatures recognised by the eIDAS regulation and their security levels

Variety of documents; sales contracts, customer approvals, employee on-boarding, intellectual property licensing and other standard legal agreements or even online banking or filing tax returns that legal departments manage, require a signature to be placed for approval.

Printing and scanning documents back and forth to manually collect the signatures of different parties involved is tedious. It will cause significant delays in getting contracts and other legal documents approved, putting your business at the risk of losing a lucrative deal.

If you are looking to automate this manual process, it is nearly impossible to keep e-signature tools out of it, as it is the key to digitising agreement workflows. Integrating an eSignature tool can be a game-changer for your business when making deals, as documents can be approved in record time, reinforcing your legal department’s role as a value driver.

In this article, we will discuss what the EU regulation eIDAS entails, the 3 types of eSignatures and how they differ from one another in terms of the level of security and their use.

EU regulation eIDAS

“eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services) is an EU regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the European Single Market. It was established in EU Regulation 910/2014 of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and repeals 1999/93/EC from 13 December 1999.”
Wikipedia

eIDAS Regulation recognises three types of electronic signatures.

Simple or Basic electronic signature (SES)

Basic - eIDAS sets a foundation for all electronic signatures by asserting that no signature can be denied legal admissibility solely because it's in electronic form. This requirement can be met with typical e-signatures. Neither are they necessarily digital signatures nor do they require user ID verification. Examples of the SES includes writing your name under an e-mail, a scanned signature and using an “I accept” button.

Advanced electronic or digital signature (AES)

Advanced – They are the baseline for legally valid eSignatures. They are uniquely linked to the signer and are capable of identifying the same. Signers create their signature using data solely under their control and the final document is tamper-evident. This requirement can be met with digital signatures.

Qualified advanced electronic or digital signature (QES)

QES is a stricter form of AdES and the only signature type given the same legal value as handwritten signatures. It provides the highest legal backing for digital signatures. It requires signers to use certificate-based digital ID issued by a qualified EU Trust Service Provider (TSP) who has gone through an accreditation and supervision process that is defined in eIDAS, covering security, user verification processes and protection of signer key among other things.

In addition, signers must use a qualified signature creation device (QSCD), such as a smart card, USB token, or mobile app that creates a one-time passcode. Qualified signatures are necessary for documents that need high security such as property transfers, legal contracts, incorporations and many other corporate and government interactions.

In conclusion, eSignatures offer the strongest levels of legal enforceability, including audit trails, signature encryption and tamper-seal certificates to protect your contracts and other legal documents from repudiation.

Legisway is a legal management solution that partners with DocuSign, YouSign, Universign, Luxtrust, Scrive and AdobeSign, so that you can place the signature of your choice on your documents in the most secure manner.

Visit our website today.

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