What regulations apply to electronic signatures?

Suppose you plan to use electronic signature in your company and get all internal document signing processes streamlined. In that case, you might wonder what rules apply to validate the signature providing legal evidence. In this post, we tell you the electronic signature regulations that apply in Spain and Europe and the Electronic Signature Regulation known as eIDAS.

Regulations must move forward to adapt to new circumstances, and the evolution of online transactions has meant the need to use electronic document signing. To give legal coverage to such signature, various laws and regulations have been approved.

What electronic signature regulations are applied in Spain?

In Spain, electronic signature regulations derive from several instruments:

  • Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 July 2014 (eIDAS) on electronic identification and trust services in electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC. The Regulation is directly applicable in all EU Member States.
  • Law 6/2020, of 11 November, regulating certain aspects of electronic trust services. This law complements the electronic signature regulations to handle the aspects in which the principles were referred to State Regulations

eIDAS: European Electronic Signature Regulation

The eIDAS Regulation regulates various trust services such as:

  • Electronic signature
  • The establishment of stamps and timestamps.
  • Electronic documents and registered electronic delivery services (Registered email).
  • Certificate services for website authentication.

The objective of the eIDAS Regulation is to remove obstacles between the Member States of the European Union so that the identification of citizens can be carried out quickly and effectively.

The novelties provided by the eIDAS Regulation are as follows:

Regulates three types of electronic signature:

  • The simple electronic signature defined in Article 3.10 as the electronic format is annexed to or logically associated with other electronic data that the signer uses to sign.
  • The advanced electronic signature, which meets the following requirements, laid down in Article 26 of the Regulation:
    • It is uniquely linked to the signer.
    • It is capable of identifying the signer.
    • It is created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his sole control;
    • It is linked to the data signed therewith so that any subsequent change in the data is detectable.
  • A qualified electronic signature is an advanced electronic signature created by a qualified signature creation device based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures.

Regulation of electronic signatures.  Article 25 of the eIDAS Regulation establishes that:

  1. An electronic signature shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely because it is in an electronic signature or that it does not meet the requirements for qualified electronic signatures.
  2. A qualified electronic signature will have the same effects as a handwritten signature.
  3. A qualified electronic signature based on a qualified certificate issued for one Member State will be recognised as a qualified electronic signature in all other member states.

To know without an electronically signed document is valid as evidence in a judicial procedure. However, it is also necessary to check the Regulation of the Civil Procedure Act and the Criminal Procedure Act to see what they establish as to the type of evidence allowed in a trial.

What regulates the Law on Electronic Signature in Spain?

The Electronic Signature Act was adopted to strengthen the legal certainty of the Regulation (which applies directly to all Member States of the European Union) and regulates the following aspects:

  • The risk-forecasting regime for qualified service providers.
  • The penalty system.
  • Verification of the identity and attributes of qualified certificate applicants.
  • The inclusion of additional requirements at a local level for certificates such as national identifiers, their maximum term of validity or the conditions for suspension of certificates.

This Act repealed the Electronic Signature Act of 2003 and Article 25 of the Information Society and Electronic Commerce Services Act concerning trusted third parties, as regulated by the eIDAS Regulation.

As a result of the above, electronic signature bases its validity on several rules that complement and provide legal certainty to anyone who wants to sign a document digitally.

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