Validity of the online signature on contracts in courts or legal cases.

Validity of the online signature on contracts in courts or legal cases.

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In accordance to the Article (17) of Federal Law No. (1) of 2006 On Electronic Commerce and Transactions;

1. A signature shall be treated as a Secure Electronic Signature if, through the application of a prescribed Secure Authentication Procedure or a commercially reasonable Secure Authentication Procedure agreed to by the parties involved, it can be verified that an Electronic Signature was, at the time it was made:
a) unique to the person using it;
b) capable of identifying such person;
c) was, at the time of signing, under the sole control of the Signatory in terms of the creation data and the means used; and
d) linked to the Electronic Record to which it relates in a manner which provides reliable assurance as to the integrity of the signature such that if the record was changed the Electronic Signature would be invalidated.

2. Absent proof to the contrary, reliance on a Secure Electronic Signature is deemed reasonable.

In addition, It is also important to consider the following:
1. The jurisdiction by which the agreement or document will need to be recognized and/or enforced. If another jurisdiction than the UAE is involved, it is important to consider their own laws regarding e-signatures;
2. Where an e-signature is being relied on (other than pursuant to Article 17 of the E-Commerce Law), whether such reliance would be considered reasonable by the courts (factors the courts would consider are set out above); and
3. Whether the type of document with respect to which the e-signature is used may be signed by way of e-signature under the e-commerce law.

The use of e-signatures also imposes additional duties on a signer, set out under Article 19 of Federal Law No.1 of 2006. There may be repercussions if these duties are not fulfilled. These duties include notifying concerned persons, without any unjustifiable delay, in the instance of finding out the signer’s signature tool was or may have been exposed to safety risks based on circumstances or facts made known to him/her.

As long as the requirements set out above are fulfilled, there should be no significant risk that the UAE courts not consider the e-signatures valid and the Signatory shall bear the legal consequences.