Overview of the electronic signature
The digitization of uses and businesses leads to the dematerialization of all documents. It is therefore essential to create a climate of trust when exchanging these digital documents. One of the key elements of this trust is the electronic signature.
The signature, as defined by the Larousse dictionary, fulfills two essential functions, firstly, the consent of the person, secondly, the confirmation of his identity.
The electronic signature, also called digital signature or e-signature, represents the digitization of the signature stage of a document. It allows to accelerate and facilitate the sealing of an agreement between two or more parties.
Did you know that scanning a handwritten signature in order to transmit its agreement is not an electronic signature. It is in fact without legal value because it does not allow to link the signature to a physical or moral person.
Can the electronic signature be challenged?
It is not possible to challenge the electronic signature in court by having its electronic format as an element of contestation. Indeed, the online signature act has an equivalent value to the handwritten signature. However, it must meet specific requirements governed by the States where it is applied.
What is the legal value of the electronic signature?
How is the electronic signature regulated?
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic freezes physical exchanges, which leads to a democratization of digital tools and the electronic signature is no exception. However, the electronic signature has been used for several years in various sectors of activity, legal, industrial, etc.
In France, the electronic signature obtains a legal recognition during the year 2000 (law n°2000-230 of March 13, 2000). It becomes equivalent to the handwritten signature.
In 2014, the European Union decided to standardize and legally frame the realization of electronic signature to all Member States through the European regulation eIDAS (Electronic IDentification And trust Services). It allows to guarantee the identity of the signer, the integrity and the origin of the document.
What are the levels of the electronic signature?
The different levels of the electronic signature are a legacy of the Directive (1999/93/EC). It governed the electronic signature in the European Union Member States until 2016, when the eIDAS regulation came into force.
Today, there are 3 different levels of electronic signatures:
- Simple: This is the most conventional signature because it does not require a complex process of identification of the signatory. It is generally used for the signature of employment contracts, leases, adhesion to the GTC/CGV and even when receiving a package. For more reliability, the identity of the signer can be verified using a verification code sent by SMS as in the case of Woleet Sign.
- Advanced: This type of signature meets stricter standards and therefore has a higher level of security. An identity verification process and a certificate are required to guarantee the integrity of the document, the identity of the signer and the non-repudiation of the signature. It is used for the signature of credit contracts, tenders or real estate sales agreements.
- Qualifiée : La signature qualifiée est nécessaire dans certains cas précis. Selon les situations et la loi en vigueur, ce type de signature peut-être obligatoire lors de la signature d’actes, d’actions collectives ou de transaction impliquant des montants importants. Une identification en face à face et à double facteur est alors nécessaire. Ce type de signature est le plus sécurisé mais également le plus strict et le plus contraignant.
Signatures made with Woleet Sign are simple signatures in eIDAS terms. They are considered as advanced if the signer takes the precaution to verify the identities of the signers with for example the request of identity documents and the conservation of the corresponding proofs. In this case, we advise to keep a copy of the identity document of the signatories and to sign these copies yourself in order to keep an irrefutable proof of this verification.