Digital Signature's Legality
The legally binding way to sign online
Today, most countries welcome the use of electronic signatures as a way to move
beyond a paper-based environment. New Zealand, Australia (all states), the United
States, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and
many others have established laws regarding the signing of documents in
While people use various ways to sign electronically, ONLY Digital Signature technology
that uses industry-based standards of cryptography can satisfy these laws. The Secured
Signing digital signatures online service complies with and exceeds these
We are confident that the systems used by Secured Signing ensure that the electronic signatures
produced meet the New Zealand legal requirements for a signature. In fact, the security and logging
facility, in our view, provides better authenticity than many of the methods by which documents are
now commonly signed and exchanged (e.g. email and facsimile). So, unless there are specific laws
dictating that a document can only be signed in a particular way, any form of contract can be signed
using the Secured Signing System.
Rick Shera, Partner, LOWNDES JORDAN, Barristers & Solicitors, Auckland, New Zealand
- Adequately indentifies the signatory;
- Adequately indicates the signatory's approval of the information to which the signature
relates; and (Intent)
- Is as reliable as is appropriate given the circumstances.
- the means of creating the signature is linked to the person signing and no-one else,
- the means of creating the signature was under the control of the person signing
and no-one else, and
- any changes to the signature are detectable, and
- any changes to the documents are detectable (data integrity ).
How Secured Signing’s trusted Digital Signatures Service meets Electronic Signatures Laws
Documents that are digitally signed with Secured Signing meet the above law requirements as follows:
Identifying the Signatory
Only Secured Signing creates a unique digital certificate to a user, an Invitee, and a Witness. When these signatories register, additional information is added to their signature including a unique e-mail address with proof of ownership, full name, company’s legal name, full physical address, password, and more. Some of these details ensure the signatory is identified at the moment the digital signature is created. By digitally signing, users can easily verify the identity of the signatory via the digital certificate incorporated with the digital signature. Signature verification can be done online using Secured Signing’s Free Verification Service and/or on the verifier desktop.
Signature is linked to the signatory
The Secured Signing digital signature technology ensures that every signature is uniquely linked to the signatory and to the document by using the signatory’s Private Key. The service creates a unique digital certificate for the signatory using a Cryptographic Key that eliminates the possibility to create and/or duplicate the same signature.
Creating the signature is under sole control of the signatory
Secured Signing sends documents for signing only to the person whose signature is required; no one else will receive them. In order to sign, the signatory has to provide credentials verifying their right to sign: a proof of ownership of a unique e-mail address and a password to login.
Detecting Changes to the Document and to the Signatures (Data Integrity)
Secured Signing’s trusted digital signature service is based on PKI technology that is considered to be the ONLY technology that ensures non-forgeable signatures. Signed documents are sealed with the signatory’s trusted PKI digital signature key; the system is also able to detect any changes that might be made to the content of the document after it is first signed. If the document is modified, signatures will immediately become invalid. The indication that changes have been made will appear when opening the documents in electronic format; it will also appear at the verifier desktop.
Secured Signing solution provides additional unique features to support a valid Digital Signature:
- Strong SSL encryption for documents sent
- e-mail validation to prove ownership
- Signature’s Date and signatory’s local Time Stamp
- Signature’s purpose (Intent)
- Secure log-in and activities report
- Secured access
- Secured document storage
- Full signing process audit log
- Document log
Digital signatures that use Personalised X509 PKI Digital Signature technology sustain signer authenticity, accountability,
data integrity and non-repudiation of documents and transactions.
In 1999, the EU passed the “EU Directive for Electronic Signatures” and on June
30, 2000, President Clinton signed into law the Electronic Signatures in Global
and National Commerce Act ("ESIGN"), which made signed electronic contracts and
documents as legally binding as a paper-based contract.
In recent years, most countries worldwide have adopted legislation and regulations
that recognise the legality of a digital signature and deem it to be a binding signature.
Many of them have an Electronic Transactions Act in place.
These legislations create a uniform standard for all electronic transactions and
encourage the use of electronic signatures, giving electronic signatures the same
legal effect as pen-and-paper signatures.
"Signing documents online with Secured Signing is the online equivalent of the signatories
being in the same room together" Rick Shera, Partner, LOWNDES JORDAN Barristers
Secured signing service complies with ESIGN, UETA, Electronic Transactions Acts
and many more.
Some Legislation worldwide:
Australian Capital Territory -ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2001
Australia, New SouthWales (NSW) - ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2000
Australia, Northern Territory (NT) - ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2000
Australia, QLD - ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS (QUEENSLAND) ACT 2001
Australia, VIC - ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS (VICTORIA) ACT 2000
Australia, SA - ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2000
Australia, WA - ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2003
Australia, Tasmania - ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2000
Canada - Uniform Electronic Commerce Act (UECA)
China - Electronic Signature Law of the People's Republic of China
Europe - EU Directive for Electronic Signatures (1999/93/EC)
Europe – EU VAT Directive
New Zealand - ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2002
South Africa - Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002
UK - Electronic Communications Act 2000 (chapter 7)
U.S. - Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN)
U.S. - Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)- adopted by 48 states
Nothing on this page constitutes legal advice.