Are electronic signatures legal in UK?

In the UK electronic signatures have been legal since 2000, since the introduction of the Electronic Communications Act 2000. The UK now adheres to the European Union’s eIDAS regulations that came into play in July 2016.

This means that UK businesses shouldn’t worry about the legality of electronic signatures and should be aware they have the option of using e-signatures for signing documents.

Legal Model

The UK’s legal model is a tiered one. This means that Qualified Electronic Signatures as a legal type of e-signature are valid and legally binding. This doesn’t mean that a non-Qualified Electronic Signature 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.

To see how eSignatures work, see here.

Disclaimer

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