Can a handwritten electronic Signature be legally binding?

New Whitepaper from DLA Piper: WACOM eSignature solutions – Compliant with European E-Signature legislation

DLA Piper, a world-wide leading law firm, has prepared a whitepaper where they reviewed the legal effectiveness of Wacom´s eSignature solutions in relation to European regulatory principles for electronic signatures.
Within this work DLA Piper answers the main questions with regards to legal binding electronic signatures in Europe and explains the key features of Wacom´s eSignature solutions.

From a legal perspective, DLA Piper can conclude with confidence that Wacom´s eSignature solutions meet or even exceed the requirements of the electronic signature definition in the E-Signature Directive. This means that according to Article 5.2 of the Directive, it may not be denied legal effectiveness solely based on technical characteristics.

According to the provisions of the E-Signature Directive, an electronic signature does not automatically acquire the same legal validity as a paper-based handwritten signature. However, from the perspective of the intended use of electronic signatures as a means to create valid contracts and from an enforceability point of view, electronic signatures are often adequate. As courts decide on the value of the evidence presented to them, the more trustworthy the technology used, the more trustworthy the signed document, the more evidential weight will generally be conferred. Wacom’s eSignature solutions provide important evidentiary value by combining biometric, contextual and cryptographic data.

Furthermore, adequate configuration of the technical and procedural safeguards of Wacom´s eSignature solutions can make it an excellent additional tool to increase the trustworthiness of a qualified electronic signature system. A qualified electronic signature system using Wacom´s eSignature solutions as a component can be used to create digital signatures which have the legal effectiveness of a paper-based handwritten signature in accordance with Article 5.1 of the E-Signature Directive. Under the upcoming Trust Services Regulation, the legal compliance of Wacom´s eSignature solutions to the applicable electronic signature requirements is likely to remain equivalent or even higher.

The Whitepaper from DLA shows that for the majority of business cases (not for all) Wacom eSignature solutions can be used to sign legally binding contracts offering a very high level of evidence. Wacom´s eSignature solutions are being used in different industries and applications, by customers all across Europe. Many companies and institutions already signed up for an efficient future reducing workflow cost by implementing Wacom´s eSignature solutions. Here are some examples from our reference list: Orange, O2;Vodafone; Santander; Lloyds TSB, BBVA, BNP, Banca Intesa San Paolo, La Caixa, Unicredit, Italian post-Poste Italiane, Spanish post-Correos, Decathlon, Hilti, IKEA Germany, Goertz Shoes, Jack Wolfskin, Mercedes-Benz, French police, Norwegian police, German municipalities,

DLA Piper is a global law firm with 4,200 lawyers located in more than 30 countries throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. DLA Piper’s technology practice has deep industry sectors experience that allows them to provide valuable practical advice and innovative solutions over and above their first-rate base of technical know-how. Their practice counts many of the world’s largest high profile IT companies as clients.

The Author Professor Dr. Patrick Van Eecke is Partner at DLA Piper’s Brussels Office and head of the Internet law group. He is a specialist in e-commerce and e-government, digital signatures and PKI(public-key-infrastructure) as well as data protection issues. Dr. Van Eecke advises both governments and enterprises on the legal compliant implementation of e-signature solutions and is experienced in drafting and negotiating PKI related legal documents, such as Certification Practice Statements, Certificate Policies, Signature Policies and Relying Party Agreements.

Wacom eSignature solutions consist of hardware and software. On hardware there are different signature pads available – STU-530, STU-520, STU-500, STU-430 or STU-300. Top of the line in hardware is the signature display DTU-1031. Software can be either Wacom´s own sign pro PDF application or Signature Development Kits as well as third party applications from Signature Solution Partners.

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