Classification of Law
Spain'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 Spanish 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 1528 of the Spanish Civil Code). 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 326 section 2 of the Civil Judicial Proceedings Act, 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 The eIDAS Regulation repealed and replaced the e-Signatures Directive (1999/93/EC) and is directly applicable in the 28 member countries of the European Union.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:
- certain HR documents, such as employment contracts, 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, (except consumer loan agreements)
- residential and commercial lease agreements, unless the parties intend to have them registered at the corresponding land registry in which case they would need to be notarized and an electronic signature would not be valid
- software license agreements
- licenses of intellectual property, including patent, copyright and trademark
- intangible property transfers, unless the parties intend to have them registered at the corresponding property registry in which case they would need to be notarized and an electronic signature would not be valid
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 - certain real property lease or transfer contracts and deeds
- certain IP licenses or transfers
- Notarization - marriage contracts
- Notarization - contracts of inheritance, including those that waive an inheritance or memorialize a sale of an inheritance
- Notarization - the articles of incorporation of a company with limited liability and the assignments of shares of a company with limited liability
- Notarization – contracts that a party wants to enforce against a third party (and must register)
- Other - certain HR documents to be filed with government agencies can often be submitted electronically, but may be required to comply with specific formalities
 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.
 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, Spain supports the concept of a QES (Qualified Electronic Signature), requiring independent accreditation for those signatures by an approved certification body. Spain, 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 Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (the “eIDAS Regulation”), Spain maintains a publicy 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