Electronic signatures


The Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/696), which implement the Electronic Identification Regulation (eIDAS, which has applied since 1 July 2016), came into force on 22 July 2016. The regulations repeal the E-Signature Regulations 2002. The ICO is appointed as the UK’s supervisory body for the purposes of the regulations and will be required to oversee trust service providers’ compliance and impose sanctions including fines of £1000 for non-compliance.

The eIDAS Regulation:

  • lays down conditions for mutual recognition of electronic identification;
  • sets out rules for trust services, in particular for electronic transactions; and
  • creates a legal framework for electronic signatures, seals and time stamps, electronic documents, electronic registered delivery services and certificate services for website authentication.Member States may choose to join the mutual recognition schemes of e-identification as soon as the necessary implementing acts are in place. The mandatory mutual recognition is expected to apply in the latter half of 2018. Read more.

Law Society guidance

The introduction of eIDAS prompted a working party led by the Law Society of England and Wales, to provide guidance on e-Signatures, as we reported in September. It has published a non-binding note based on a full legal opinion by Mark Hapgood QC, setting out good practice for the use of electronic signatures in business contracts under UK law. The note sets out principles for determining whether different types of contracts can be or have been validly signed electronically as well as the evidential weight of electronic signatures, conflict of law issues and other considerations.