Are Electronic Signatures Valid in Australia?

3-24-2016 | by Benjamin Fleshman

According to part 10 of the Electronic Transactions Act of Australia, electronic signatures are considered to be valid in the eyes of the law. Go ahead and jump for joy. We know how excited you are to save your business time and money using electronic contracts, signatures, and management software. While you exult, however, there are a few things to know and to consider with regards to the ETA.

What Are the Legal Requirements of the ETA?

The ETA is considered what is known to be a “permissive” or “minimalist” law, meaning that it is virtually an “anything goes” sort of law. In Australia, there are very few laws governing the actual use of electronic signatures, they are simply accepted. Nearly all documents are permitted to be signed electronically.

We say “nearly all documents” because there are some exceptions. These exceptions include documents regarding migration and citizenship, wills, powers of attorney, and some real estate transactions in certain areas of the country. A typical business transaction, however, includes none of these restrictions and is, therefore, fair game for an electronic signature.

When using an electronic signature, however, one should keep in mind the few requirements enumerated in the law. The ETA requires that the parties signing a document are both in agreement to use electronic signatures. It is always in your best interest to be versatile and offer a paper contract to sign if the other party is uncomfortable or untrusting of an electronic document.

Your signature should be encoded and encrypted in such a way that you can easily track the source of the signature, identify the signee, and be appropriately reliable for the given circumstance.

 

What is “Appropriately Reliable”?

In most countries, electronic signatures are classified in one of three ways:

  • Simple Electronic Signatures
  • Advanced Electronic Signatures
  • Qualified Electronic Signatures

Simple electronic signatures would include things like the tick boxes you click when purchasing a small item on the internet. They are not considered to hold much legal water, but they are considered to be valid under Australian law.

Advanced and qualified electronic signatures are essentially the same thing, save that a qualified signature is an amped-up version of an advanced signature. These types of electronic signatures are easily traced back to their points of origin, and they are heavily encrypted and tightly secured. Such a signature would include a digital signature.

Digital signatures are special cases of an electronic signature, but it is specifically linked to an identity and can easily be verified. Simple electronic signatures do not have these features, and are therefore more difficult to verify.

While all types of electronic signature are valid in the eyes of the law, be sure that the electronic signature you are using has an appropriate level of security for the transaction that you are carrying out.

 

How Can Concord Help?

Since we are aware of electronic signature laws all around the world, we are also well equipped to provide software services for electronic signatures and contract management in the U.S., Europe, South America, and yes, Australia.

If your company is looking to make the switch to electronic contracts and agreements, then look no further. We have the software and the security to be sure that your electronic signatures are secured and compliant with Australian law.

 

 

Click here to learn more about the United Kingdom electronic signature validation.