Are electronic signatures legal in New Zealand?
New Zealand’s legal model is an open one. This means that unlike a tiered model (that see’s Qualified Electronic Signatures as a legitimate form of e-signature), there aren’t any requirements for electronic signature types. And so a QES won’t receive legal status.
New Zealand operates a Common Law system, which is based on:
- Judicial decisions are seen as binding
- Laws aren’t always of a written structure
- Few provisions are hinted at into the contract, by law
- Generally, everything is permitted that isn’t expressly prohibited by law
Few provisions are implied into a contract under the common law system – so it’s important to cover all the terms governing the relationship between the parties to a contract in the contract itself. This usually means that contracts are typically longer than one in a civil law country.
In New Zealand law The Electronic Transactions Act (2002) highlights that handwritten signatures aren’t always needed for a contract to be seen as valid. Sections 7 and 137 of New Zealand’s Evidence Act 2006 (subject to New Zealand’s general rules of admissibility), show that to support the credibility of a contract, records from leading digital transaction management solutions should be provided as admissible evidence in court. And contracts are typically seen as valid as long as legally able parties have come to an agreement,. This can be done either verbally, electronically or by physical methods. However this may need extra evidence when used in court.