Guidelines for e-Signature & e-Delivery of Documents

Introduction

An e-signature solution is not new to the world. Many businesses across the sector are using digital signature solutions to perform the shining process quickly and safely than traditional document signing process.

Sectors like real estate Banking and Insurance finance and even government Agencies are not shying away from using a document signing software. Educational institutions Health Care Organisation are also utilising this Digital solution to perform documentation process more smoothly in the streamlined order without wasting much time and cost however this new technology has to be used across the world as per certain regulations and guidelines. Let us explore more about it in this article; however before that let us briefly understand the benefits of electronic signatures.

Electronic Signatures and Their Benefits

Secure

A professional document signing software always offers a high-end security environment where every signature and the content that is supposed to be signed by the concerned parties are shared and stored safely in the cloud. The Audit Trail feature allows every party of the document to track each progress on the document and stay assured.

Saves Time

Needless to say, an e-signature solution helps your business by fast-tracking the process of documentation. It allows signatories to sign from anywhere at any time using their mobile devices so they do not have to waste time in waiting queues or visiting physical offices to get the deal done. 

Saves Cost

E signature solutions not only save time but also reduce the cost of Signature and documentation. The signatories no longer have to spend money on paper, ink, printing, faxing or posting a document. Signatories can use a free electronic signature app to perform signatures securely.

Positive Customer Experience

As signatories and other stakeholders of the contract do not have to spend much time and money in the completion of the spinning process; this leaves a positive impression on customers and every other stakeholder. One the customers are ensured of the Quality Services they tend to stay loyal to the business and its offerings. In the fierce market competition, it is very much important to keep your customers happy

Suitable for Business Expansion

An e-signature solution is an agile and flexible software that lets you close deals with companies across the border. In the time of intent and globalization, the sky's the limit for you and you must leverage every opportunity. A minute yet crucial task like signatures should not consume much of your time. 

Let us know about the laws or guidelines that govern the use of an app for signing documents.

E-Signature Requirements in the US

The US has passed two crucial laws to govern the use of electronic signatures. One at the state level and another at the Federal level. These act are:

Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) at the state level.

Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) at the Federal level. 

Both these acts were passed in 2000 and they provide five crucial elements that make electronic signature legally valid in the region. Here are those five elements:

Consent: first and foremost is the consent of the person who is signing the document. He or she must agree to use an electronic signature. Which means the business will specifically have to ask the signatory if he or she wishes to use an e-signature solution to make electronic signatures on the consent document

Validity: as far as the validity of electronic signatures is concerned as per the laws electronic signatures are as valid as traditional or handwritten signatures. Documents or records signed using these signatures hold the same legal weightage as the traditional document or a paper-based document. Digital signatures cannot be considered invalid just because they are not ink-based signatures.

Data integrity: the act states that the documents which are electronically signed must be stored securely and safely away from the risk of any fraudulent activities.

Intent: just like the consent of the signatory electronic signature needs that a person who is signing the document has the intention to do it. The signatories must agree to what is written on the document that they are going to sign; they must fully understand the content and the implication of their signatures.

Recording: to make an electronic signature and the signed document legal, the e-signature must be accompanied by a proof showing that it is an electronic signature.

In the US, e-signed documents are acknowledged in most situations. If you are a business that regularly performs B2B, B2C, or C2C transactions, or if there are transactions taking place between the government and businesses or individuals, an electronic signature is good and acceptable. Many court cases have confirmed and validated the use of e-signatures and ensured the reliability of them.

However, the act also specifies certain areas or situations where e-signatures are not acknowledged. Here, one can perform a legal signature only in a traditional way. Here are those circumstances:

Court orders, notices wills, codicils, testamentary trusts, adoption and divorce documents, termination of life or health insurance benefits, etc. 

E-Signature Legal Requirements in the UK

Just like in the US, ESIGN and UETA regulate the use of document signing software, the UK has passed Electronic Communications Act in 2000 to accept that an agreement or a contract cannot be considered invalid merely due to the use of electronic signatures and the document is delivered electronically. The UK passed an Electronic Signatures Regulations Act in 2002 to fully codify the use of electronic signatures in the UK.

As per the UK law, the contract does not have to hold a traditional or handwritten signature to consider it valid, electronic signatures carry the equal weightage as wet signatures. As long as the involved parties have an understanding of the contract and are in will and wish the contract cannot be considered illegal or invalid just because it is electronically signed. If all the parties are e-signing it with mutual understanding, then that electronic record is acceptable as proof.

In the UK, there are different degrees of the legality for electronic signatures.

The most basic being: Standard Electronic Signatures (SES). However, it does not really hold the same legal status as a handwritten signature. 

Other two are (which the UK laws consider equal to handwritten signatures): Qualified or Advanced Electronic Signatures. 

What does Advance Electronic Signatures Mean?

It uniquely connects to the person making signatures.

Identifies who has signed.

Follows a process that only the right the signer can access.

Detects altering and tampering attempts.

A Qualified Electronic Signature is:

A digital signature that has governmental approval.

Made using highly secure Digital Signature Solutions.

Has equal legal status as a handwritten signature in all legal scenarios

In the UK, SES that is standard electronic signatures is accepted in many scenarios such as employment contracts, sales contracts, HR documents, short-term leases, loan agreements, etc. Rest of the documents demand AES or QES.

Read the blog- E-Signature Challenges Hospitals Face And The Solutions To Them

However, just like the US, the UK laws have also excluded some circumstances or documents from the valid use of electronic signatures. Here are some documents that demand handwritten signatures:

A majority of lease documents

Family law documents, like prenups and divorce agreements

Customs and revenue documents

Real estate agreements that include the transfer of title, mortgage, and release of mortgage.

E-Signature Legal Rrequirements in the EU

In 2000, the EU acknowledged the use of e-signatures with the help of the Directive on a Community framework. Just like the UK and US laws, this law also confirmed that the electronic signature Can or be considered invalid purely because it is in electronic form. Many European countries follow the path of the UK while accepting the use of electronic signatures. In 2015, EI legislation replaced eIDAS which was considering that there are three degrees of legality when it comes to electronic signatures, similar to the UK.

Here are the recommendations for the legality of e-signatures for businesses so that they do not lose customer trust and market name while recommending and using an e-signature solution purely because Online Signature Pricing is less.

There has to be a clear audit trail that goes back to the signer to validate the identity of the person. This covers every action the signature performed before signing the document. For example, clicking on the I Agree box that confirms signatory's consent to the terms and conditions and clicking on the Next button to reach the signature place.

Secure & Reliable eSignature Tools For Business - Try It Now

Building a secure signature site with an SSL certificate to ensure that only the added party makes the sign.

Use of third-party software to authenticate that you the business is in compliance with the regulations. The same will help in maintaining a secured storage place to keep the signatures and the content from any fraudulent activity, etc.

If you are thinking of deploying an e-signature solution, make sure the vendor and the solution is in compliance with the laws of the land. A professional service provider will ensure your safety, speed, legal validity, accuracy and high ROI. Choose the right solution for the sake of your business and the customers too.