Electronic Signatures for Documents: The Law 2023


The lengthy process of signing and submitting ink-to-paper signatures was a significant roadblock in contract management. This is no longer the case. It takes just seconds to obtain a court-admissible signet. You can do it remotely from your computer, mobile device, or laptop. Electronic signatures, also known as e-signatures, are a great way for businesses to streamline administrative processes, reduce risk, save money, and provide a better customer experience. Here's everything you need about electronic signatures, from understanding their operation to evaluating the legal- and procedural benefits they offer.

What are Electronic Signatures?

Electronic signatures can be a full SaaS solution to authenticate, track, and store signatures and information at all stages of a contract's lifecycle. E-signatures can be signed by only one person, just like handwritten signatures. While witness testimony and handwriting can be used to confirm the authenticity of traditional signatures, e-signatures provide additional layers of authentication.

Each electronic signature is assigned a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) that appears as a unique sequence of encrypted numbers, one public and one private. The encrypted data contains information about the IP address of the signer and records the date and time at which the signing occurred.

Electronic signatures (esignature) are a way to confirm an individual's agreement. They have been accepted and used in many countries all over the globe for years. Electronic signatures are now used by more than a billion people worldwide. Are electronic signatures legal?

Electronic signatures are legal, so that's the short answer. This question asks whether an electronic signature can create binding and enforceable contracts. The short answer is "yes." Electronic signatures are accepted and widely recognized in the industrialized world. They are more secure than paper-based signatures, which makes them less vulnerable to forgery.

This blog post will discuss what makes eSignatures legally binding, their validity in the US, exceptions, and what an eSignature is.

What Makes an Electronic Signature Legally Binding?

The US Federal Government passed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act in 2000. This Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act(UETA) confirm that electronic signatures are legally binding documents if signed digitally.

E-signatures encompass all technologies and solutions that allow you to sign documents electronically. These can be simple images or PKI-based signatures. There are many capture options available, including:

  • Clicking on "I Agree!" to go to a website
  • Signing with your finger using a mobile device
  • Online forms require you to enter your PIN or name
  • Using an eSignature solution such as eSignly eSignature

Are Electronic Signatures Legally Binding?

Yes, electronic signatures can be used in all US States and have the same legal status under state laws as handwritten signatures. Electronic signatures are legal in all industrialized countries. They have the same legal weight and efficiency as handwritten signatures. Although laws may vary, you can learn more about your country's legal requirements by visiting eSignly's eSignature Legality Guide.

An electronic signature such as those provided by eSignly eSignature is typically required to create a legally enforceable document. In the United States, additional authentication may be required for certain cases. Digital signatures can be done using tools such as eSignly standards-based signings. Digital signatures are also more common in regions such as the European Union.

What Types of Documents Can be Signed Electronically?

Electronic signatures and documents can be signed in many industrialized countries for personal and business transactions. Electronic signatures are possible for many business documents, including:

  • Letters of an offer, new hire paperwork, and updates to employee policy
  • Statements of work, non-disclosure agreements, and sales contracts
  • Master service agreements and purchase orders
  • Real estate transactions
  • Account opening paperwork
  • Application and settlement of insurance claims
  • Services for students
  • Patient intake forms

There are exceptions to this rule, as with all things in life. Electronic signatures cannot be legally signed, as stated by the National Telecommunications Information Administration.

  • Testamentary trusts and wills
  • State laws governing adoption, divorce, and other family law
  • Orders from the court or other official documents
  • Notification of cancellation of utility service
  • Notification of default, foreclosure, or eviction of a primary residence for an individual
  • Notice of termination for life or health insurance policies
  • Recall notices are issued for products that pose a significant risk to safety or health.
  • Documents are legally required for transporting hazardous materials, pesticides, or other toxic substances.

Always refer to the laws of your jurisdiction for your particular e-signature case.

Difference Between an Electronic Signature and a Digital Certificate?

Digital certificates authenticate the requestor's identity using PKI certificates issued by a trusted certificate authority like eSignly. This authentication method is the best for protecting electronic documents. This authentication method directly links the identity to the esign document and guarantees its legitimacy.

Digital signatures comply with the strictest regulatory requirements. These include the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of the United States (UETA), the United States Electronic Signatures in Global Commerce Act (ESIGN Act), and other applicable international laws like eIDAS.

Alternative methods of electronic signatures are less secure. These can include email addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information. There are many electronic signature laws around the world, with different requirements for verifying the signer's identity.

Various Types of Electronic Signatures

There are three main types of electronic signatures. These differences are explained in the 2016 electronic Identification, Authentication, and Trust Services regulation (eIDAS) passed by the European Union. These regulations also apply to the United States.

This regulation provides the legal framework for the electronic identification and signature process, seals, documents, and other matters, throughout the EU. These signatures are often integrated into business processes. In addition, these signatures are now a part of the internet user experience.

Simple Electronic Signatures

These are the simplest, most general types of electronic signatures. eIDAS defines them as "data in an electronic format attached or logically connected with other data in an electronic form and which signatory uses for signature." They do not require identity verification, and the signatory is responsible for confirming their authenticity.

In some instances, electronic signatures can be legally binding. You will, however, need higher qualifications to sign many documents.

Advanced Electronic Signatures

These signatures cannot be compared to electronic signatures. These signatures require identity verification. These signatures can only be created using certificates that uniquely identify the signer. These signatures are typically transmitted via a specific delivery service that can provide audit trails or other evidence regarding the data transmitted. These signatures are usually certified by a Certificate Authority.

Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES)

These electronic signatures can be used the same way as advanced ones, but they must meet additional requirements set forth by the eIDAS regulations. For example, qualified Electronic Signatures (QESs) must be based upon valid technological means that have been issued public keys. In addition, a certificate authority or audited entity must be able to identify the signatory before signing. Face-to-face identification can be made via video chat or in person.


There are many legal requirements that electronic signatures must meet around the world. However, four main pillars govern the legality of electronic signatures within the United States.


In that they communicate intent, electronic signatures are not different from handwritten signatures. It is impossible to force someone to opt-out of an electronic signature, but it can be legal.


Every party must consent before an electronic contract or document can be signed. Electronic signatures are not valid unless the parties have consented at an earlier date and never withdrew.


Not only must the specific method of attaching an electronic signature be documented, but also must it be accurate. The record must also explain in detail the process used to create and attach the signature.


An electronic signature record must be reproduced accurately and made available to any party with the right to it.

Legality of Electronic Signatures in Documents

Electronic signatures allow users and businesses to speed up their contracting processes while providing an audit trail. Although digital signatures are rapidly replacing handwritten signatures, users of eSignly may question the enforceability and validity of these signatures. This article will discuss how signature laws are applied and how they have been interpreted during the transition to paperless signing. We will use the Law Commission's 2019 'Electronic Execution of Documents Report (2019) and the Government's response.

Report Electronic Execution of Documents

According to the Law Commission, there were still uncertainties regarding the legal validity of some electronic signatures and their enforceability. The Law Commission explained how electronic signatures might fit in the current legal framework that governs commercial and consumer documents. This included deeds but excluded wills and registered dispositions of land under the Land Registration Act 2002.

Users were unsure about the enforceability of electronic signature solutions due to the lack of legislation. These concerns were magnified in cross-border contracts, such as those with the European Union, and regarding authentication and data security.

Current Law on Electronic Signatures In Documents

The Law Commission reported that electronic signatures could be used to execute legal documents, such as deeds. The Law Commission stated that an electronic signature could be used to execute important documents, including deeds. However, it must be signed by the intended signer, and all formalities related to execution must be met. Electronic signatures and management of employment, tenancy contracts, and other contracts are possible.

Electronic signatures can also be admissible in court proceedings as evidence. They can be used to prove identity or the intent to authenticate a contract. The courts will consider all circumstances when deciding whether a signature is authenticating. The law will conclude the intention to authenticate if a reasonable person, not just those who signed the contract, considers that such was the intent of the person's actions.

This approach applies to non-electronic signings. The courts consider that signing with an "X," initials, stamps, or a mark is a description of the signature. However, their identity must be sufficiently clear (i.e., Signing with an 'X,' initials, stamps, a mark, and printing a name are all valid options. The Law Commission examined these approaches. They concluded that electronic signatures used on online documents are likely to be recognized by a court. There is no reason to believe electronically signing a document is more legal than physically signing it.

What Are the Benefits of Electronic Signatures?

Electronic signatures are an essential business tool and can replace wet signatures as businesses move towards digital transformation. Here are some of the many benefits of electronic signatures.

  • Going paperless: Reduce paper usage; e-signing can reduce the amount of paper needed and help organizations in their efforts to become paperless.
  • More flexibility: You can sign from anywhere. This makes it easy to do business remotely or while on the move.
  • Lower costs: Electronic signatures can save organizations money. They speed up workflows and help increase productivity.
  • Fewer errors and risk - Advanced security and digital authentication methods lower risks. Forms can also be pre-filled to avoid human error. Electronic signatures can also provide an audit trail, which helps ensure compliance.
  • Increased efficiency - The approval workflow is now automated. This allows document owners to see who signed what and when. It also increases employee productivity. Many document signing app includes a dashboard tool that easily tracks documents still awaiting signatures. This speeds up the process, which could have taken weeks. The software also stores signed documents making it easier to find them.
  • Better UX Using electronic signature software to sign a document is easy and quick. This creates better customer and employee experiences. Electronic signature solutions can also be integrated into existing systems that employees use.

Industry Working Group for eSignatures Interim Report

The interim report of the Industry Working Group on Electronic Execution of Documents, an expert group of experts, was published on February 1, 2022. It contains their analysis of the current state of electronic signatures in England, Wales, and other countries.

This report explains how individuals and businesses can use electronic signatures safely. Lord Justice Birss noted that 'there is no reason to use an old-fashioned pen and ink.'

The Industry Working Group hopes that this guide will increase adoption across government and society. They believe electronic signatures are better and more secure than traditional methods and should become the norm rather than an exception.

The group recommends that all official documents, including contracts with suppliers and government departments, be made available electronically by the Government. As an example of government encouragement, the report cites the HM Land Registry's practice manual on the execution of deeds and the Ministry of Justice's project for lasting powers of attorney.

Use Cases Electronic Signatures for Various Industries

Free electronic signature software would be a great choice for all industries still relying on tradtional wet signatures. eSignly's eSignature software is especially well-suited for businesses-to-consumer companies with large customer transactions and the need to process them quickly. Our specialties include banking, auto finance, and insurance. However, we also work with other industries.

Let's deep dive into the most important industrial uses for mobile-optimized eSignatures like eSignly.

Finance Industry

Speed and convenience are the best in today's highly competitive lending environment. Many lenders make it difficult for potential clients to complete their applications. This frustrates them and causes them to lose out. Auto lenders can spend weeks trying to get clients to fill out applications correctly, provide documents, and sign them. This costs them valuable time that could have been spent on other loans.

eSignly makes loan servicing and origination quick, simple, and mobile-friendly for customers and agents. The dynamic workflows automate processes and ensure that all ID and supporting documents are verified, applications and ACH forms are completed the first time correctly, and that repayment terms can be electronically signed immediately. This speeds up processes, eliminates errors, eliminates rework, and reduces the time it takes to fund - significantly increasing lending profitability.

Benefits for Finance Industry

  • Higher Loan Conversion Rates
  • Reduced time to funding
  • Reduced touchpoints and time-consuming rework
  • Sped-up Documents Collection
  • Reduce Legal Risk with Simplified Compliance
  • Customer Experience Improvement
  • Accuracy of ACH Forms Increased


eSignly's instant collaboration tools allow financial institutions to quickly collect documents, IDs, signatures, consents, and payments from any device. Banks often use lengthy, tedious, and paper-heavy processes to perform relatively simple tasks, such as loan modification or account opening.

Banks can now offer customers a mobile-optimized eSignature solution that allows them to complete their entire journey via one digital channel. Agents don't have to spend time chasing prospects or customers to fill out inconvenient paperwork. Customers are less likely to abandon the processes they have started, such as service requests and applications, because of cumbersome requirements. Banks will see a tangible return on investment if their front-end experience is more intuitive and streamlined.

Benefits for Banking

  • Accelerated Customer Onboarding
  • Boosted conversion rates & increased sales
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Improved Customer Experience (NPS).
  • Eliminating the Burden of Regulatory Compliance

Common banking uses


  • Personal & Auto Loans
  • Spezial loans
  • Mortgage / Home Equity
  • Debit and Credit Cards
  • Checking/Savings/CD Accounts
  • Retirement/Investment accounts
  • Onboarding customer


  • Loan Extensions, Modifications, Deferments, and Extensions
  • Collections
  • Bankruptcy & Probate Processing
  • Fraud & Disputes
  • Lost & Stolen Cards
  • Insurance proof

Higher Education

High-quality higher education requires the collection of all documents, forms, and payments for admissions and financial help.

Many admissions and aid evaluations are affected by slow, disjointed, and outdated processes. This results in higher operating costs, lower completion rates, and student frustration.

eSignly makes financial aid and admissions easier and more efficient. Students can fill out all forms and submit them electronically. Payments are processed securely and immediately. eSignly aids higher education in simplifying student intake and accelerating completion. It also improves the student experience.

Benefits for Higher Education

  • Automated and simplified processes
  • Accelerated Student Intake and Evaluation
  • Higher Success Rates in Successful Completion
  • Lower Admission and Aid Servicing Fees
  • Delighted Applicants and Increased Community Loyalty


A successful insurance company will have a simple claims process. Many insurance companies struggle with inefficient processes that force them to chase clients for supporting documents and evidence.

This constant back-and-forth increases operational costs, delays claim processes and leaves customers and agents dissatisfied.

eSignly makes it easy to submit insurance claims. Your customers can instantly submit all documentation and forms while on the phone with an agent and make any excess payments from their phones. eSignly streamlines the process of collecting documents, expedites claims processing and improves customer service.

Benefits for Insurance

  • Higher completion rates
  • Reduced collection times
  • Eliminating waiting and chasing
  • Improved customer experience

Legal Team

A successful law firm is built on professionalism and efficiency.

Many law firms continue to struggle with slow and inefficient processes. These include faxing, expensive overnight mail, and in-person signatures. Back office work is required to collect signatures, documents, and stipulations via email, mail, and fax.

This outdated process and the endless back-and-forth drive up costs and delay processes, leaving clients frustrated and dissatisfied.

eSignly makes client-facing processes easier by allowing signatures, documents, and payments to be collected quickly and easily without the need to fax, overnight mail, wait for emails, or meet in person.

All documentation and signatures can be submitted by clients anywhere, at any time. eSignly streamlines customer processes, so law firms can focus on more profitable activities and reduce back-office work.

Benefits for Legal Industries

  • You can instantly collect and verify ID to ensure compliance.
  • While speaking to customers over the phone, you can share contracts, documents, and stips.
  • Instantly collect eSignatures for contracts and consent to policy terms. You can also amend policy details in real time.
  • Customers can make secure mobile payments from their phones while speaking with a representative to complete transactions.


eSignly provides dynamic, automated in-call workflows for telecommunications companies. This allows all customer-facing sales or service processes to be completed immediately and securely in real-time.

Because of the complexity of plans and deals, telco sales can be difficult for agents and customers. Customers are often frustrated by the long turnaround times and frustration with sales calls. This results in lost sales, increased costs, and customer loyalty, which can impact the bottom line. Telecommunications has had to look for ways to streamline its processes. One way to do this is to implement an e Signature solution.

eSignly offers a visual cart feature specifically designed for telecommunications and its core eSignature solution. This feature allows buyers to have an easier and more visual buying experience. Customers will receive a "cart" that contains all their order details so they can view it before making a purchase.

Benefits for Telecommunications

  • Accelerate sales & increase the offer take rate
  • Increase NPS and Customer Retention
  • Automate customer workflows to reduce errors and variability
  • Boost FCR & Expedite Service
  • You can instantly complete onerous billing tasks
  • Agent satisfaction and retention can be boosted

The Key Takeaway

Every day, millions of contracts are signed electronically by individuals and businesses—from delivery receipts at the door to multi-million-pound currency transactions. The commission states that there are still questions about whether electronic signatures can be used in certain situations.

Every country in the world has its laws regarding electronic signatures. It is a good idea to research each country's laws and regulations before conducting business internationally.

European Union

Regulation (EU), No 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions became effective in EU member countries in July 2016. It created an EU-wide legal framework to allow electronic signatures. E-Sign's digital signing solution is compatible with eIDAS and the EU technical standards for electronic signatures. E-Sign also conforms to GDPR.

United States of America

E-Sign's digital signing solution conforms to the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), and Digital Signature and Electronic Authentication Law.

ESIGN Act (2000) covers e-signatures and e-records. It allows for electronic signatures in all 50 US states where federal law applies. An e-signature is an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a document. It can be executed or adopted by an individual who intends to sign and become legally bound. eSignatures are compliant with the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (1999)