Do Electronic Signatures has any validation in Australia?

Posted by James Noble on January 28th, 2021

Electronic Signatures in Australia

In today’s society, most documents used in day-to-day business can now be filled out and signed electronically. The Electronic Transactions (Queensland) Act 2001 (ETA) is the legislation that governs the permitted use of electronic signatures.

Although the ETA does not include a comprehensive definition of what constitutes an ‘electronic signatures, this term usually encompasses images displaying the person’s signature, typed name, or some other form of identification. The courts have previously held that a name, either printed or signed, which appears at the bottom of an email is a valid signature for the purposes of a binding contract.

Section 14 of the ETA sets out three basic requirements for valid signature, being identification, reliability, and consent:

  • Identification
  • Reliability
  • Consent

Digital / Electronic Signatures

This kind of electronic signature specifically uses a cryptographic authentication technology which allows you to generally “track” when and who signed the document. However, although these digital signatures are more secure than handwritten, they can still be subject to fraud.

Validation of Electronic Signatures in Australia

There are several documents that require more stringent consideration of the validity of the electronic signature compared to other documents. These include:-

  • Signatures required to be witnessed
    • Numerous documents demand a signature attesting a witness to the principal’s signature of the document. Most electronic witness signatures suggest the document is not signed in physical presence. Although the validity of electronic witnessing is yet to be tested by any court case, the appropriate method should still be to rely upon a physical handwritten signature.
  • Deeds
    • Although Deeds are subject to quite unique and old-fashioned legal requirements of the form (being written on paper), the Queensland ETA does not suggest that Deeds should be electronically valid. Therefore, until amendments to this legislation are made, or case law approves Deeds to be in electronic form, the document should remain in the paper state.
  • Registrable Documents:
    • Although electronic signatures of these documents are not excluded by law, many third parties such as government organizations or banks will not accept an electronic version only. Therefore, to successfully register the document with said third-parties, having paper signed documents is still the recommended choice.

With the increased uptake of digital devices in the modern world, we are set to see a big uptake in the use of digital devices to take electronic records such as signatures.

Article Source: https://www.jamesnoblelaw.com.au/tap-or-sign-electronic-signatures-and-contracts/

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James Noble

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James Noble
Joined: December 24th, 2020
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