Classification of Law
eSignature Legality Summary
Under Australian law, a written signature is not necessarily required for a valid contract - contracts are generally valid if legally competent parties reach an agreement, whether they agree verbally, electronically or in a physical paper document. The Electronic Transactions Acts in the Commonwealth, States and Territories of Australia specifically confirm that provided certain requirements are met, and a relevant exception does not apply, contracts cannot be denied enforceability merely because they are concluded electronically. Leading digital transaction management solutions can provide electronic records that are admissible in evidence under Australian laws to support the existence, authenticity and valid acceptance of a contract.
Use Cases for Standard Electronic Signatures (SES)
Use cases where an SES is typically appropriate include:
- HR documents, such as employment contracts and other new employee onboarding processes
- certain commercial agreements, including NDAs, procurement documents, sales agreements
- certain consumer agreements, including terms and conditions of sale
- certain real estate documents, including lease agreements, purchase and sales contracts; other related documentation for residential and commercial real estate
- non-exclusive license of intellectual property
Use Cases That Are Not Typically Appropriate for Electronic Signatures or Digital Transaction Management
Use cases that are specifically barred from digital or electronic processes or that include explicit requirements, such as handwritten (e.g. wet ink) signatures or formal notarial process that are not usually compatible with electronic signatures or digital transaction management.
- statutory declarations requiring a witness (excluded from ETA)
- powers of attorney in certain States/Territories (Powers of Attorney Act 2014 (Vic) s 33)
- wills, codicils and other testamentary instruments (excluded from ETA and notarization required by Succession Act 2006 (NSW))
- bills of exchange
- the signature, lodgement, service and filing of documents in connection with legal proceedings in certain States/Territories
- certain documents under legislation relating to health insurance, life insurance and general insurance
- certain documents, notices, and consents used in connection with the provision of credit related services under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth)
- transfers of intangible property, such as intellectual property
- official Commonwealth documents such as passports
Local Technology Standards
As part of its open, technology-neutral approach to electronic signature, there are no federal laws requiring the use of specific technology for a legally enforceable electronic signature, either for digital certificates or otherwise.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is for general information purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws governing electronic signature may change quickly, so DocuSign cannot guarantee that all the information on this site is current or correct. Should you have specific legal questions about any of the information on this site, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your area.
Last updated: November 01, 2019