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Classification of Law

Civil Law

Latvia'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 Latvian 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 (Article 1405 of Civil Code).  Documents signed with an electronic signature (SES) can satisfy the written form requirement under Latvian law and can be used, unless the law sets forth a specific format requirement. However, prior to usage of SES, the parties might agree in writing (e.g., on paper with ink signature or electronically with QES) on the use of electronic signature in order for it to be of the same legal strength as QES. This agreement can be implicit – for example, by executing a contract using SES, the parties implicitly agree to the use of SES for that particular contract or any other contract/document that would be concluded between the parties in the future. If the parties have established a practice of exchanging documents signed with an SES, the implicit agreement is generally sufficient. If there is no such practice, in the absence of prior written agreement on the use of an SES, a party cannot be forced to accept and deem as authentic a unilateral document (e.g., e-mail) signed with an SES.  . 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 110 of Civil Procedure Law, 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 regular employment contracts (except termination notices), non-disclosure agreements, employee invention agreements, privacy notices, 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
  • residential and commercial lease agreements (except if the parties wish to record the agreement in Land Register and thus create a right in rem)
  • software license agreements
  • licenses of intellectual property, including patent, copyright and trademark
  • intangible property transfers, such as patent and copyright assignments

Use Cases for Other Types of Electronic Signature (e.g. Digital Signature, AES[1], QES[2])

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

  • QES - termination of an employment agreement (Employment Act, Article 112(1))
  • QES - corporate documents filed at the Commercial Register (Commerce Act, Article 9(1))
  • QES - commercial pledge agreements (Commercial Pledge Act, Article 14)
  • QES – signature of notary (Notaries Act)
  • QES – power of Attorney issued by a legal person (Civil Procedure Act, Article 85(2))

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.

  • Formal notarization - power of Attorney issued by a natural person (Civil Procedure Act, Article 85(1))
  • Formal notarization - requests to the Land Register to make, delete or amend a record regarding rights in rem (Land Register Act, Article 60)
  • Formal notarization - certain agreements allowing expedited/facilitated judicial enforcement, e.g., notarized fixed-term agreements on payment of money or return of a movable item (Civil Procedure Act, Article 400(1), sub 2) and notarized lease/rent agreements which explicitly require the lessee/tenant to return the leased item/vacate the rented premises after the expiry of the agreement (Civil Procedure Act, Article 400(1), sub 3)
  • Formal notarization - certain acts governed by family law, e.g., nuptial agreements (Civil Law, Article 115), divorce (Civil Law, Article 69), admission of paternity (Civil Law, Article 155)
  • Formal notarization - certain acts governed by the law of succession, e.g., certain forms of last will and testament (Civil Law, Article 433), inheritance agreements (Civil Law, Article 643)
  • Formal notarization - company incorporation documents, i.e., application form to the Commercial Register, articles of association, register of shares of a limited liability company, consent to become a management board member (Commerce Act, Article 10(1))

[1] 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.

[2] 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, Latvia supports the concept of a QES (Qualified Electronic Signature), requiring independent accreditation for those signatures by an approved certification body. In compliance with the EU Regulation No. 910/2014 on Electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market, Latvia 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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