Are electronic signatures legal in Switzerland?
Switzerland has legally recognised e-signatures since 2003, since The Federal Law on Certification Services in the Area of the Electronic Signature (Law of the Electronic Signature). More recently the introduction of eIDAS in July 2016 has seen these regulations standardised across Europe.
Switzerland operates under Civil Law systems which are arranged according to a plan or a system and come from Roman law. Civil law systems are 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.
Switzerland’s legal model is a tiered one. This means that Qualified Electronic Signature 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 additional evidence to support it.
Under Swiss law (art. 11 sec. 1 CO), it highlights that contracts don’t need a handwritten signature to be seen as credible. They are seen as such as long as legally able individuals have reached an agreement (this can be by agreeing verbally, electronically or by physically signing, however sometimes parties will have to provide evidence in court to support).
Since July 2016, the eIDAS regulation has meant that all companies in the EU comply with each other’s e-Signature regulations. Standardising them across Europe.
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: January 2020