Are electronic signatures legal in Ecuador?
Ecuador’s legal model is a tiered legal 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.
Ecuador 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.
Ecuadorian law states that a handwritten signature isn’t needed for a contract to be seen as valid, they are seen as such as long as legally able individuals have reached an agreement (through agreeing verbally, electronically or by physically signing). This is shown specifically through The Law on Electronic Commerce, Electronic Signatures and Data Messages and the General Regulation to the Law on Electronic Commerce, Electronic Signatures and Data Messages. Which highlights that documents cannot be dismissed purely on the grounds that they are electronic.
Parties may have to provide additional information in court to assure that all content is unaltered, and so, records from digital solution are admissible as evidence in court, in order to support such documents (this is only applicable when Sections 10, 16 and 17 of the General Regulation to the Law on Electronic Commerce, Electronic Signatures and Data Messages are met and complied fully with).