Most of the world's major industrialized nations have adopted electronic signature legislation with the goal of expediting commerce across the Internet.

EchoSign provides extremely easy-to-use electronic signatures that are fully compliant with the United States ESIGN Act and many other such pieces of legislation across the world.

The goal of the U.S. and all global legislation is essentially the same: to provide clear criteria for the enforceability of electronic signatures. Of course, each nation has taken its own legislative approach to the specific criteria and how they are to be implemented.

Most industrialized nations have adopted some form of electronic signature legislation. However, the individual approaches are different.

Category 1: Countries where electronic signatures have the same legal status as written signatures.

The following countries treat electronic and written signatures equally. There are sometimes exceptions for highly regulated industries (e.g. real estate) or contracts with the government. The only additional requirement is that the agreement includes language where the parties agree to conduct business electronically. This statement is automatically added to all agreements signed through EchoSign.

Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

Category 2: Countries where electronic signatures are enforceable, but do not have the same status as a written signature.

In these countries, electronic signatures are legally admissible in court as evidence of the parties’ agreement, but do not have the same status as written signatures.

Belgium, China, Czech Republic, France, India, Japan, Russia

Because of this, it may be helpful to insert a clause stating that U.S. law (or governing law of another country listed in Category 1 above) shall apply to the agreement or to have signers return their signatures via fax.

Category 3: Countries where the status of electronic signatures is unclear or where digital signatures are strongly preferred.

In these countries, electronic signatures do not have the same enforceability as other types of signatures. This is sometimes the case where a country has stated an explicit preference for the usage of authenticated digital signatures.

Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay

Because of this, it may be helpful to insert a clause stating that U.S. law (or governing law of another country listed in Category 1 above) shall apply to the agreement or to have signers return their signatures via fax.

Best Practices

For customers deploying EchoSign globally, we recommend a variety of best practices to maximize the benefits of the use of electronic signatures in the above countries:

  1. Include a U.S. choice of law provision in all contracts.

    Where the sender is a U.S.-based company, include a clause stating that all parties agree to use electronic signatures and agree to be subject to the provisions of the U.S. ESIGN Act. For many of our customers, this is seen as a simple and effective worldwide approach.

  2. In Category 2 countries, where the courts are given discretion to interpret on a case-by-case basis, do a business benefit analysis.

    The contracts in these countries will be legally binding for standard commercial transactions, but electronic signatures could add some complexity to adjudication. Consider the benefits of expedience, higher close rates, and visibility against a potential need to persuade a court with detailed evidence in the event of a dispute. Keep in mind that EchoSign provides clear evidence of signing including an automated audit trail for every transaction that includes dates, times, parties, and IP addresses.

* These materials are intended to provide general information and are not a substitute for legal advice. Before taking action, you should seek the assistance of an attorney for advice on your use of this service or software. Access to these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Adobe Systems Inc.