Get a quick overview of electronic signature.

What is electronic signature, how does it work, what does Legalesign do?

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What is an electronic signature?

Electronic signature is a replacement for a handwritten signature. But the law doesn't always say what that should be. It lays down criteria for creating a contract, but doesn't say what technology should be used, whether paper and pen, or computer and mouse. This is known as being 'technology neutral'.

You'll find the 'technology neutral' approach in UK common law, the EU's 'advanced electronic signature' standard and US law. Legislation does sometimes refer to specific technologies. This may happen for some regulated contracts or to give assurance, for example, the EU's 'qualified electronic signature' standard.

A 'technology neutral' approach enables the law to progress. For instance, an innovation in the use of paper was developed in the 16th Century to prove document authenticity. The two parties would tear their contract in half. Upon a dispute the parties return and a perfect fit of the document's halves would prove its authenticity. The basic need to prove document authenticity has not changed since, but technology has.

At Legalesign this is performed by PDF Certification.

eSignature for Business Handbook

Download the PDF summary on esignature law
illustrator to compare wet ink signature and electronic signature

Advanced vs qualified electronic signature?

EU legislation ('eIDAS') has two standards for electronic signature: 'advanced' and 'qualified'. A widely-known third category is the 'basic' electronic signature. A 'click to agree', with a plain tickbox, will be a basic electronic signature, eSignature software like Legalesign can produce an 'advanced electronic signature', and a special ID/Certificate specifically assigned to a person can constitute a 'qualified' signature. Broadly, each standard offers an increasingly strong use of technology. Qualified signatures are common in some EU States where there are ID cards that double as a qualified signature. By contrast, with no such schemes in the UK, they are rarely used.

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Advanced Electronic Signature. How does it work?

An 'advanced electronic signature' is a type of signature laid down in the EU's eIDAS Regulation. To be 'advanced' the electronic signature has to meet four requirements, it must be:

i) uniquely linked to the signatory, ii) capable of identifying the signatory, iii) be created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his sole control and iv) it is linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable."

If you signed a document in a way that met those tests, then you just signed with an advanced electronic signature.

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illustrator to compare wet ink signature and electronic signature

How does Legalesign electronic signature work?

Legalesign meets the advanced electronic signature standard and creates a logical connection between the signer and their completed document. 1-use links provide a unique connection with a signer and ensure sole control of a signing event, email (and other identity checking if used) identify to a person, some elements during the signing process fulfil other parts of UK common law and US law tests for valid contracts, and PDF Certification (and 'hashing' as a secondary backup) creates a tamper-proofed and time-stamped final document.

Legalesign eSignature software offers a strong standard of electronic signature. But alone that doesn't offer value to business. This is achieved through effective, secure and pragmatic business process software developed around the electronic signature.

Where does the value come from? By using Legalesign eSignature software you cut the costs of paper, ink and printers. You improve control, governance and compliance over emails. Your contracts can be managed, sent and signed very rapidly increasing the speed of your business. Staff time on sending, controlling, and retrieving documents becomes negligible compared to other methods. Your customers get a better experience when they can sign your document anywhere and anytime from their mobile devices.

In other words, a firm that adopts eSignature and Legalesign hits all three nerve centres for improving their business: costs are cut, efficiencies are improved and customers delighted.

Why choose Legalesign?
Executive summary pdf

Download the executive summary

Free electronic signature*

How is this possible? Electronic signature technology doesn't offer value alone.
We price based on delivering ROI to our customers through productive software features.

(*excludes automated functions, such as Bulk Send, Embedded Documents and API)

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Law Commission consultation on e-signature

The Law Commission are consulting on electronic signature, and considering witnessing, video links and other possibilities.

Read the Law Commissions consultation on eSignature

GDPR, electronic signature and Legalesign.

Legalesign has a portal so customers can meet their obligations as data controllers under GDPR; it includes facilities to provide signers with access to their data, to ensure you stop processing a person’s data, to set data retention policies, and to delete personal data.

Read more about GDPR and Legalesign