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Electronic and digital signatures: international legal validity

30 July 2020

Are electronic signatures valid outside of Italy?

E-signature systems are especially useful for remote-signing on contracts and agreements. Below are the rules governing how e-signatures can be binding outside the EU.

“If I sign on a computer, is the contract still valid?”
The use of digital contracts is gaining in popularity worldwide. More and more users are having to use electronic- and digital-signature systems. Technology, at least in Italy*, tends to viewed with a certain amount of scepticism. When someone accustomed to “ink” signatures has to place a digital signature for the first time, this question is likely to arise. Concerns about the validity of digital signatures, especially in this increasingly international and globalised economy, compound the general worries of those routinely executing contracts and agreements with far-away countries.

European law and the situation in Great Britain

In terms of the EU, the validity of the electronic signatures is established by eIDAS, Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation, also known as “EU eIDAS Regulation no. 910/2014”. The eIDAS Regulation, which took effect in September 2014, became mandatory across EU Member States in 2018. The impetus for the law was to create a single digital market. In terms of the validity of electronic signatures in other European countries, therefore, one can rest assured of their security.

What about the UK? As of the passing of Brexit, the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the EU; therefore, it is not subject to the eIDAS rules. That said, before its definitive exit from Europe, the UK did pass a regulation which nearly mirrors eIDAS. Following Brexit, electronic signatures issued in accordance with eIDAS rules continue to be accepted and binding in the UK.

Electronic signatures outside the EU

The world certainly doesn’t start and end with Europe. Are electronic signatures considered binding internationally? That is, after all, where the remote-signing option would be most useful.
The answer is somewhat obvious: every country outside the EU has its own rules and regulations. The number of countries passing laws permitting electronic signatures grows every year. The recommendation, therefore, is to find out the rules applicable in the country where the transaction is going to take place, and then bolster the validity of the signatures using a local Certification Authorities.

On the issue of internationalisation, Intesa offers a signature integrated with DocuSign, currently in use in 180 countries, through a platform that supports 43 languages, making it easy to use on an international level. One can also decide whether to use signature platforms which are provided or available in Europe, Asia, or the U.S., depending on how personal-data-processing must be handled.
As a member of Adobe’s Approved Trust List, Intesa offers document signing which conforms to Adobe standards.

* Source: La Repubblica, Italians’ faith (kind of) in technology

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