Are electronic signatures legal in United Arab Emirates?
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.
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
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