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Classification of Law

Civil Law

Greece's legal system is a mixture of Roman civil law and Anglo-American common law systems.  Civil law operates in areas such as family relations, property, succession, contract, and criminal law, while statutes and principles of common law origin are evident in such areas as constitutional law, procedure, corporations law, taxation, insurance, labour relations, banking and currency.

Civil law systems are based on concepts derived from old Roman law, distinguishable by their reliance on having a comprehensive set of rules and principles codified and easily accessible to both citizens and legal professionals. Codified laws are regularly revised to reflect the current environment, and have stronger emphasis in civil law countries than any precedent set by earlier court cases. Civil law countries cover more than 65% of world’s legal system, including the majority of continental Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

eSignature Legality Summary

Under Greek 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 (Articles 158 and 160 of GCC). To prove a valid contract, parties sometimes have to present evidence in court. Leading digital transaction management solutions can provide electronic records that are admissible in evidence under Article 445 of the Greek Code of Civil Procedure, to support the existence, authenticity and valid acceptance of a contract.

In addition, Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (the “eIDAS Regulation”) came into force on 1 July 2016. The eIDAS Regulation repealed and replaced the e-Signatures Directive (1999/93/EC) and is directly applicable in the 28 member countries of the European Union.

The eIDAS Regulation is technology neutral and defines three types of electronic signature (SES, AES, QES). Article 25(1) provides that an electronic signature shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic form or does not meet the requirements of a QES. Articles 25(2) and (3) give a QES the same legal effect as a handwritten signature and ensure that a QES recognized in one Member State of the EU is also recognized in other Member States. Finally, Recital 49 allows national law to set requirements regarding which type of electronic signature may be required in which circumstances.

Use Cases for Standard Electronic Signature (SES)

Use cases where an SES is typically appropriate include:

  • HR documents, such as full time employment contracts[1], non-disclosure agreements, employee invention agreements, benefits paperwork and other new employee onboarding processes
  • commercial agreements between corporate entities, including non-disclosure agreements, purchase orders, order acknowledgements, invoices, other procurement documents, sales agreements, distribution agreements, service agreements
  • consumer agreements, including new retail account opening documents, sales terms, services terms, software licenses, purchase orders, order confirmations, invoices, shipment documentation, user manuals, policies, but excluding consumer loan agreements
  • commercial lease agreements and many residential lease agreements (except termination notices in some instances)
  • software license agreements
  • intellectual property licenses, including patent, copyright, trademark licenses
  • intangible property transfers (e.g., patent and copyright assignments)

Use Cases for Other Types of Electronic Signature (e.g. Digital Signature, AES[2], QES[3])

Use cases where an electronic signature other than SES may be required include:

  • QES - reference letter granted by employer following termination/expiry of employment (Article 678 GCC)*
  • QES - termination of employment agreements (Article 5 par. 3 Law 3198/1955)*
  • QES - part time employment contracts (Article 38 par. 1 Law 1892/1990)*
  • QES - renewals of fixed term employment contracts (Article 5 par. 2 of PD 81/2003)*
  • QES - conclusion of collective labour agreements (Article 5 Law 1876/1990)*
  • QES – contracts of surety
  • QES – consumer loan agreements
  • QES – certain contacts governed by family law, including marriage contracts
  • QES – certain deeds govered by the law of succession, including some types of wills and delcarations for accepting or waiving inheritance
  • QES - amendments to commercial lease agreements as regards duration and termination before the lapse of the initial 3-year term

*QES appears feasible in principle as no express prohibition of its use exists), but it has not been used in practice and its acceptance by the courts and the labour and social security authorities has not been tested.

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.

  • Notarization - contracts to purchase or transfer real property (Article 1033 of GCC)
  • Notarization - grants / Donations (Article 496 GCC)
  • Notarization - residential lease agreements if the duration is more than 9 years (Article 618 GCC)
  • Handwritten - contracts of surety – notarization required in case the contract of surety is ancillary to a contract that requires a notarial deed, i.e. purchase of real property (Article 849 GCC)
  • Notarization - civil partnership agreement, notarization is required pursuant to art 1 of Law 3719/2008
  • Notarization - voluntary recognition of a child (Articles 1475-1476 GCC)
  • Handwritten - certain deeds governed by the law of succession, e.g., Wills (Article 1721, or 1724 of GCC)
  • Notarization - articles of incorporation of a company with limited liability (Article 6, 28 of Law 3190/1955)
  • Notarization - assignment of shares of a company with limited liability (only in the form of EPE) (Article 6, 28 of Law 3190/1955)
  • Articles of incorporation for the establishment of a Societe Anonyme

[1] The employer is required to set out in writing the material conditions governing an employment relationship, to sign it and to hand it out to the employee. However, a violation does not affect the validity of the contract.

[2] An AES is an “advanced electronic signature”, a type of electronic signature that meets the following requirements: (a) it is uniquely linked to the signatory; (b) it is capable of identifying the signatory; (c) it is created using means that are under the signatory’s sole control; and (d) it is linked to other electronic data in such a way that any alteration to the said data can be detected.

[3] A QES is a specific digital signature implementation that has met the particular specifications of a government, including using a secure signature creation device, and been certified as ‘qualified’ by either that government or a party contracted by that government.

Local Technology Standards

As a Tiered eSignature Legal Model country, Greece supports the concept of a QES (Qualified Electronic Signature), requiring independent accreditation for those signatures by an approved certification body. While QES is only legally required for limited types of transactions, Greece, as a member of the European Union, follows ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) standards to define the technical requirements for a QES. In compliance with the EU Regulation No. 910/2014 on Electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market, Greece maintains a publicly accessible list of supervisory bodies for qualified certificated providers together with other countries in the European Union.

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

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