An electronic signature is an electronic means of recording a personal identifier in the same way a handwritten or wet ink signature is used.
Types of electronic signatures can include:
- A digital signature – An encrypted date time stamp linked to an account login
- Typing a name in a signature box
- Ticking a box
- Inserting a scan of a signature
- Stating in communications that the communication itself is to be considered a signature.
What makes an electronic signature a good option?
The digital signature is an accepted electronic signature in many commonwealth agencies. The fact that this electronic signature uses asymmetric cryptographic encryption means that it is linked to a secure login and with well-maintained security protocols is probably one of the hardest forms of signature to forge.
Legality of electronic signatures
An electronic signature does need to meet some basic requirements to be binding. To be valid, it must:
- Identify the individual signing the document and their intent to sign.
- Be a reliable method of communicating the intent of the signed communication.
- Be agreed by the receiving person as a suitable signature to execute the contract.
In many cases, a digital signature will fulfil all requirements above.
When can’t you use an electronic signature
When there is a requirement to have a signature witnessed, an electronic signature, inclusive of digital signatures will likely not satisfy this requirement. Land titles offices and stamp duty authorities usually require handwritten signatures. In addition, forms to be lodged with Australian Securities Information Commission (ASIC) or Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) will usually need to be completed with a wet ink signature.
If you are unsure if an electronic signature is appropriate for your intended use, check with your lawyer or the agency you are dealing with.