Electronic signatures, or e-signatures, are any electronic means indicating the intention of a person to adopt the contents of an electronic message, or authenticating that the person did in fact write an electronic message. They include scanning a signature of a person, sending an email stating that the email itself is a person’s signature to a document, or typing a name or mark in the stipulated section of an online form and identifying that as a signature.

1. It is legally binding?

E-signatures have been legal since 1999 in Australia!
It has been legally binding since the enactment of section 10 of the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth), and since then, every State and Territory in Australia has followed suit.

2. What can you use e-signatures for?

E-signatures can also be used for the formation and performance of a contract. They can also be used in satisfying a requirement by a law of the Commonwealth or State for a signature, UNLESS there is an exemption that e-signatures are not valid. Some exemptions are signing a will, signing an enduring Power of Attorney, witnessing a document, or lodging a court document. If you are unsure if your document is exempted, feel free to contact us at LawPath.

3. What are the requirements for an e-signature to be valid?

There are three factors to consider here:

  1. Intention – there has to be a method used to identify the person signing, and indicate that person’s intention
  2. Reliability – the method of identification must be reliable and appropriate
  3. Consent – both parties must consent that e-signature satisfies the requirement

The signature must be placed to show it is intended to relate and refer to every part of the document, not something that appears incidentally (for example, the automatic insertion of your email address when you are sending an email), and cannot only refer to one part of the document Mehta v J Periera Fernandes S.A [2006] EWHC 813 (Ch).

4. Is it safe?

Absolutely! With many of the Fortune 500 companies, including Google and Time Warner, and even the United States Army using e-signatures, you can be sure that your personal documents and e-signatures are safe. Documents e-signed are mostly encrypted and leave a paperless audit trail. You do not have to worry about finding that contract you had lying around for 3 years somewhere in the house.

 

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.