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Why are eSignatures legally binding?

Understanding the legal validity of Electronic Signatures

• Written by Kriti Pinto

In the digital age, paperwork has taken a back seat, thanks to the advent of electronic signatures or eSignatures. We get asked about the validity of the eSignatures a lot from our customers and prospects. In this blog post, we’ll explain eSignatures and why they carry significant legal weight and how we comply with the regulations in the US and EU.

The Charm of eSignatures

Firstly, what makes eSignatures so special? They bring simplicity to the often complicated world of signatures. No more ink, no more paper - just a digital seal that carries the same legal significance as a pen-on-paper signature. But how is this possible, and why are eSignatures legally binding?

The US Perspective

In the United States, the legality of eSignatures is backed by the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). These acts assure that eSignatures are as valid as their handwritten counterparts, making them ideal for all businesses including businesses handling sensitive information, such as healthcare data under HIPAA regulations. On-premises DocuSeal installation provides the necessary control over your data to satisfy HIPAA requirements regarding privacy and data safety.

The EU Perspective

Across the pond in the European Union, eSignatures are governed by the Electronic Identification and Trust Services (eIDAS) Regulation. This regularly ensures that eSignatures have legal validity throughout EU member states, aligning perfectly with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards. Documents signed with DocuSeal fully comply with the eIDAS first-level signature standard. We are also committed to GDPR and data privacy regulations within the EU. DocuSeal.eu users data is securely stored within the EU and never transferred outside of EU countries.

Why Are eSignatures Legally Binding?

  1. Intent and Consent: Just like a handwritten signature, eSignatures represent the intent of the signer to agree to the terms of the document. As long as both parties agree to use eSignatures, their intent is clear and binding.
  2. Advanced Security Measures: Multi-factor authentication and audit trails ensure the security, integrity and authenticity of the signed documents, making it difficult for tampering or unauthorized access.
  3. Legal Frameworks: The presence of legal acts like ESIGN, UETA and eIDAS provides a robust legal foundation, confirming the legality and acceptance of eSignatures in the US and the EU.

How does DocuSeal ensure Compliance?

  1. Authentication methods: Signers are authenticated via email or SMS, ensuring the validity and trustworthiness of electronic signatures.
  2. Comprehensive Audit Trails: Audit trail is maintained, featuring comprehensive logs through the entire signing process.
  3. Record Retention: All digital records are securely stored enabling easy access and retrieval when necessary.
  4. Staying up to date with the laws and regulations: We continuously update our processes and technology to align with any changes in the legal landscape, ensuring our customers can confidently use DocuSeal.

What about other countries?

Laws vary from country to country but generally speaking most countries accept digital signatures as valid. Please refer to your country specific legislation to confirm. However, DocuSeal follows best practices to ensure compliance all over the world.

Fun Fact

Did you know that emojis can also be legally binding? In a world where digital communications are ubiquitous, the law has adapted. A recent ruling by a circuit court in Canada ruled that a digitally delivered thumbs-up emoji was legally binding for a business agreement. If emojis can carry legal weight, rest assured, your eSignatures are rock-solid!

Demystifying the Adobe Green Tick

Before we conclude we want to address another common myth. Many of you might have seen the reassuring green tick mark in Adobe, indicating a signed document’s validity. However, it’s crucial to understand that this green tick is merely a feature within the Adobe platform, not a universal stamp of validation. Adobe’s statement that signatures outside their platform are ‘unverifiable’ might seem intimidating, but it’s not the whole truth. eSignatures are governed by legal frameworks, not specific software features like Adobe.

Embrace eSignatures with confidence

In conclusion, eSignatures are not only convenient but also legally binding when implemented correctly. DocuSeal takes pride in its strict adherence to the laws and regulations governing eSignatures in the United States and the European Union. By choosing DocuSeal, businesses can trust that their electronic signatures are not only efficient and secure but also fully compliant with the legal standards set forth by the respective authorities.

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