A draft digital signature law is expected to be passed in Summer 2001.

The most important change gives digital signatures the same legal effects as handwritten signatures. Pursuant to the draft, electronic documents will have the same legal validity as paper documents. However, the draft only relates to digital signatures covered by qualified certificates whose issuers must fulfil several requirements and obtain permission from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration. The obligation to obtain permission, which was originally intended to ensure security, will probably become a barrier to the development of electronic (and particularly international) trade. Secondary regulations relating to the procedure of granting permissions will need to be implemented. Moreover, the draft introduces a requirement for the recognition of foreign certificates on the basis of international agreements.

The draft does not follow the open model, which seems to be far more effective, whereby free market and practices decide on which certificate issuers are recognized as reliable. Also, there are no provisions in the draft adjusting the provisions of civil law to the new regulations, and in particular, no provisions on issues related to concluding agreements, their required form and evidence.

Despite some criticism, the draft law would place Poland among the few jurisdictions with e-signature legislation. This is sure to have a positive impact on the development of e-commerce.

For further information on this topic please contact Marek Rosinski at CMS Cameron McKenna by telephone (+48 22 520 5555) or by fax (+48 22 520 5556) or by e-mail ([email protected]).

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