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White Paper

Promoting greater usage of electronic contracts and electronic signatures under Australian law

While Australian law generally and broadly recognises that contracts can be reliably signed by electronic means, there currently are specific areas where particular uncertainties remain: signing deeds, signing by companies and witnessing.

Such uncertainties in these areas largely arise because the law unfortunately has not kept pace with the progress of technology. Many of the rules around signatures were created when contracts were signed on paper (eg “wet” signatures). Such rules continue to apply despite significant technological advances that provide for signatures to be even more reliable and secure through electronic means.

These uncertainties impact the use of electronic signatures by imposing certain unnecessary additional costs and delays in doing business by requiring parties to sign contracts the oldfashioned way, with paper and ink.

This eBook outlines these very specific areas where uncertainties remain that negatively impact everyday business and how the Australian legal framework can be clarified in a simple manner, to allow contracts to be entered into with electronic signatures consistently with the otherwise ubiquitous approach of electronic signatures in Australian’s digital economy.