Digital eSignatures are legally binding in most parts of the world including the USA, European Union, and the UK. Get more details about specific countries here
In the United Kingdom, as in many other countries across the world, electronic signatures can take a number of different forms, including:
Electronic signatures are admissible in court in England and Wales under the Electronic Communications Act 2000 ( ECA ). Section 7(1) of the ECA 2000 outlines that in any legal proceedings:
Beginning on July 1, 2016, European Union regulation No 910/2014 - the eIDAS Regulation provided a legal framework for electronic signatures (as well as for electronic seals, electronic time stamps, electronic registered delivery services and website authentication) for all EU member states. Since Brexit negotiations came into full effect in 2021, digital signatures in UK are now governed by UK's own eIDAS laws which are similar in spirt to the eIDAS Regulations applied in the EU.
eIDAS Regulations define three types of electronic signatures: electronic signature, advanced signature, and qualified electronic signature.
Under the new eIDAS law the legal strength of eSignatures depends on a number of factors, including the type of eSignature used, with more credibility assigned to the use of advanced qualified signatures. For example, a typed name at the bottom of an email is more likely to be successfully challenged in a court of law, than a qualified electronic signature that meets all technical standards, is backed by a UK Qualified Trust Service Provider (TSP), and contains significant embedded signer information.
To date, the use of qualified electronic signatures appears to be uncommon in UK courts. Also, legal restrictions requiring other specific types of signature or preventing the use of electronic signature are similarly uncommon. Stringent signer identification and signer certificate requirements can make qualified electronic signatures impractical for many business transactions. As such, no specific type of electronic signature is legally required for the overwhelming majority of corporate, commercial, consumer, HR, and financial transactions under UK law.
There are certain contracts where signing a hard-copy of a document in wet-ink may still be required. Though the law does not exclude specific types of agreements, certain types of agreements such as wills, court documents, land titles, and deeds, may fall into this category.
Note: This information for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Consult a licensed attorney for legal advice or representation.