An electronic signature, or eSignature, is an online legal means for getting approval of documents or forms. Electronic signatures cover different types of signing documents electronically. The good news is that, in most countries and regions, eSignatures are legally enforceable and considered as legally binding as pen-and-paper signatures.
The US Federal ESIGN Act defines eSignatures as "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record."
An e-signature is basically the image of your signature on a document that shows your consent on a document or form and is considered a legally-binding replacement for handwritten signatures.
The short answer is Yes. E-signatures are legally enforceable as handwritten signatures and can be admissible in a court of law if specific criteria are met. Bear in mind that based on your location and the eSignature solution you are using, you may need to meet specific requirements to make sure your signed documents are legally binding and compliant to regional standards.
In the United States, electronic signatures are legally enforceable under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), as long as specific basic requirements are satisfied. Some of these requirements are:
In the European Union (EU), electronic signatures are considered a legally-binding solution and can be admissible as evidence in EU courts as long as they comply with the eIDAS Regulation (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services).
When it comes to the benefits of an e-signature solution for making agreements online, being legally binding and saving paper, time, and money stand out.
In general, some of the main benefits of using electronic signatures are:
The eIDAS Regulation defines three different types of electronic signatures that vary in terms of being legally binding and the area of applications:
Overall, eIDAS define electronic signatures, “data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign.” Electronic signatures can be as admissible as handwritten signatures when specific requirements are also taken into account.