Are electronic signatures legal in United Arab Emirates?

Electronic signatures are a legal method of signing contracts in the United Arab Emirates. The DIFC (“DIFC Electronic Transactions Law”) provides the framework in which electronic signatures are seen as legally binding.

Signable complies with the DIFC and the UAE Electronic Transactions Law.

“Where any provision set out in any other DIFC law requires the signature of any person…that provision set out in the other DIFC law is satisfied if an Electronic Signature is used.” Further, “[i]nformation shall not be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability solely on the ground that it is in the form of an Electronic Record.”

Legal Model

As the UAE Electronic Transactions Law lays out, an electronic signature is ‘any letters, numbers, symbols, voice or processing system in electronic form applied to, incorporated in, or logically associated with an electronic message with the intention of authenticating or approving the same.”

A ‘Secure Electronic Signature’ according to The UAE Electronic Transactions Law is defined as an electronic signature that has been securely agreed to by all parties. It also states that eSignatures must be and can be verified that at the time of the signature’s application:

  • Unique to the ‘signer’
  • Capable of identifying the ‘signer’
  • At the time of signing, under the sole control of the ‘signer’ in terms of the creation data and the means used
  • Linked to the electronic record in a way that gives reliable assurance to the integrity of the electronic signature
  • If the record or document is changed the electronic signature would be invalid

The DIFC Electronic Transactions Law defines an “electronic signature” as an “electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”

Notably, The DIFC Electronic Transactions Law does not state that electronic signatures which use a secure authentication process, are more valid than others.

* The Signer is equal to a person who uses an Electronic Signature to agree to the terms of a document or form. 

Legal Classification

There are no specific electronic signature requirements for most transactions covered by UAE Electronic Transactions Law or DIFC Electronic Transactions Law. However, there are some documents/transactions that are excluded from the laws mentioned above, meaning that these documents would require a wet ink signature:

  • Elements associated with creating or executing the power of attorney
  • The creation and execution of wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts
  • All transactions involving the sale, purchase, lease (for more than 10 years), as well as any disposition of immovable property and the registration of other rights relating to immovable property

Full Summary

The DIFC Electronic Transactions Law reads that an electronic signature is valid if there is a verifiable method binding the signature to the identity of the correct signer. As a valid indication of  the signers’ intention the electronic signature must be:

  • As reliable as appropriate for the purpose for which the document or record was generated or communicated, in the light of all the circumstances, including any relevant agreement
  • Proven in fact to have fulfilled the functions described, by itself or together with further evidence

Disclaimer

The information in the legality guides are for general information purposes only and are not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws governing electronic signature may change quickly, so Signable cannot guarantee that all the information on this site is current or correct. If you have specific legal questions about any of the information on this site, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your area.
Last updated on: March 2022