Are electronic signatures legal in New Zealand?


Electronic Signatures have been legally accepted in New Zealand since 2002, since the of the Electronic Transactions Act, giving businesses the option to using e-signatures when trading.

Yes, e-signatures are court admissible

Each country has it’s own regulations that determine whether an electronic signature is seen as legal or not. So, as long as your electronic signature adheres to these, a signature won’t be rejected simply for not being handwritten.

Yes, e-signatures can be used in business

Whilst 100% legal; there are exceptions for very specific types of transactions. It is still up to the discretion of the independent user, or governing body, whether they are used or not. As each business needs are different and the agreements themselves may vary. We always advise you to speak with an authority within your businesses category.

Legal Model

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.

Legal Classification

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.

Full Summary

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.