Electronic signatures: are we getting there?

Apr 2012 | Client publication/article

The use of signatures in paper transactions has developed over many years as a means of achieving certainty of the identity and authority of the contracting parties.

The challenge and the commercial imperative for the success of e-commerce has been to find the electronic equivalent of the signature.

However, despite the availability of a wide variety of technology solutions which allow parties to use electronic signatures, and the existence of a legal framework that recognises their validity, the use of electronic signatures within e-commerce in Europe remains relatively low.

This article:

  • looks at the current position on the law and practice of electronic signatures, including the Directive on a Framework for Electronic Signatures (99/93/EC), the Electronic Communications Act 2000, and the Electronic Signatures Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/318)
  • considers the results from the European Commission’s consultation on the Directive and future developments in this field

This article was originally published in PLC magazine April 2012 and is reproduced with the permission of Practical Law Company Limited.


Rob Sumroy (partner), Brett Sherrard (associate)

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