Digital Day recap: The legality of eSignatures

The inaugural APAC Digital Day 2022 is done and dusted. Here’s a recap of our session where we covered what makes an eSignature legally binding, and what type to choose for your business needs. 

Electronic signatures are widely recognised and accepted throughout the industrialised world. But are they legal? Short answer, yes. But there’s more to it, as Mark Bullard, Docusign’s Legal Ambassador, explained.

Mark ran a short session at last week’s Digital Day event on the legality of eSignatures. You can watch his session now, or read on for a quick wrap.

Three broad categories of electronic signature 

“Electronic signature is widely accepted across APAC for most legal documents. But your circumstances, the types of documents you’re working with, and the jurisdiction you’re in will dictate the type of eSignature solution you’ll want to use,” said Mark.

That’s right. Not all eSignature solutions are created equal.  

As Mark showed in the session, there are three broad categories of electronic signature, depending on the level of risk involved in the agreement. First, there’s a basic eSignature for low value/low risk transactions. Docusign’s basic eSignature solution comes with a secure login and password for identity management, plus a fraud evident seal based on the x.509 certificate.

In the middle of the road, for transactions that may carry a higher risk or are worth more, there’s advanced signer identification. This type of electronic signature adds another layer of verification – like two-factor authentication – for extra protection.

And, for super high risk or high value transactions, there’s third-party verified digital signatures. By law, some agreements in some jurisdictions need this additional layer of protection. To deliver, Docusign partners with Trust Service Providers (TSPs), who generate digital certificates for Advanced Electronic Signature and Qualified Electronic Signature. 

But, are they all legal?

From basic eSignature through to third-party verified digital signatures, electronic signatures captured on a trusted platform like Docusign are widely accepted as legal across the Asia Pacific and around the world. 

But not all electronic signature solutions are as robust and legally binding as Docusign’s are. Some ‘solutions’ don’t have enough protections in place to make them legal. “Simple electronic signatures, like a typed name, have deficiencies. There’s a lack of connection between a signature and identity, a lack of audit trail, or a lack of protections to ensure the signed document was not altered,” explained Mark.

If a dispute occurred and you had to prove that a person signed a document – and all you’ve got as evidence is their typed name – then it may very likely be thrown out in court. 

Instead, you need to make sure your electronic signing platform offers: 

  • Assurance of identity – this refers to the ability to reliably link an electronic signature with a person. In other words, can you prove the signer is who they say they are?
  • Compliance – this refers to the observance of rules and laws applicable to the underlying transaction. 
  • Admissibility – this refers to the ability for the final signed document and audit trail to be admissible in court, with clear evidence to substantiate claims that the parties are the ones who signed, and the document hasn’t been tampered with.

On all these counts, Docusign delivers. And has been delivering for decades. “Electronic signatures like Docusign provide a robust audit trail and fraud evident seal. And the Certificate of Completion that’s generated at the end of the signing process includes a range of features to prove who, where and how the document was signed,” said Mark.

To continually innovate and improve our electronic signature solutions – and to ensure our electronic signature solutions comply with the most rigorous of standards – Docusign works alongside governments, industry bodies and users. Our solutions align with global standards, from NIST to PCI, TRUSTe to IRAP, and so many in between, to ensure all customers can rely on the legality of our eSignature solutions. 

You can read more about the legality of our eSignatures here, or jump back into the webinar to hear more from the session.  To have a chat about how eSignatures could help your business, get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

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