Are electronic signatures legal in Taiwan?
Taiwan’s legal model is a tiered one. This means that Qualified Electronic Signatures are seen as a legal type of e-signature. This doesn’t mean that a non-QES e-Signature can’t be submitted in court, but it will need extra evidence to support it.
Taiwan operates a Civil Law system, which is based on:
- Generally a written constitution based on specific codes (e.g. civil code, codes covering corporate law, administrative law, tax law and constitutional law) preserving basic rights and duties
- There is little scope for judge-made law in civil, criminal and commercial courts (only legislative enactments are considered binding for all)
- In some civil law systems, e.g. Germany, writings of legal scholars have significant influence on the courts
- Courts specific to the underlying codes – there are therefore usually separate constitutional court, administrative court and civil court systems that opine on consistency of legislation and administrative acts with and interpret that specific code;
- Less freedom of contract – many provisions are implied into a contract by law and parties cannot contract out of certain provisions.
A civil law system is generally more prescriptive than a common law system.
There are a number of provisions implied into a contract under the civil law system – this will often result in a contract being shorter than one in a common law country.
Taiwan law highlights that a handwritten signature isn’t always needed for a contract to be considered credible and that contracts can’t be refused for simply being electronic. They’ll usually be seen as such as long as legally able individuals have reached an agreement. This can be by verbally agreeing, electronically or physically signing something (Article 153 of the Civil Code). And Article 363 of the Taiwan Code of Civil Procedures states that electronic contracts can’t be dismissed for being electronic, although they may need to be supported with extra evidence in court.