Are electronic signatures legal in UK?

The U.K has accepted electronic signatures since 2000, since the Electronic Communications Act 2000, and now adheres to the eIDAS regulations that came into play July 2016. Giving businesses the option to use e-signatures whilst trading.

Yes, e-signatures are court admissible
What does this mean?

Yes, e-signatures can be used in business
What does this mean?

Legal Model

The UK’s legal model is a tiered one. This means that Qualified Electronic Signature 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 extra evidence to support it.

Legal Classification

The UK 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 the UK handwritten signatures aren’t needed for a contract to be seen as credible, and they’ll be seen as such as long as legally able individuals have reached an agreement (this can be by agreeing verbally, electronically or by physically signing). 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.