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Last updated on April 13th, 2020 at 10:13 am

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Question whether it is possible to legally execute documents by electronic signature. The answer is it depends. Relevant factors include the governing law of the document, the type of document that is to be signed, the form of electronic signature used and whether there are cross-border implications to be considered.

Electronic Signature is defined as any letters, numbers, symbols, voice or processing system in Electronic form applied to, incorporated in, or logically associated with a Data Message with the intention of authenticating or approving the same.

Federal Law No. (1) of 2006 On Electronic Commerce and Transactions applies to Electronic Records, Documents and Signatures that relate to Electronic Transactions and Commerce but does not apply to:

  • Transactions and issues relating to personal law such as marriage, divorce and wills;
  • Deeds of title to immoveable property;
  • Negotiable instruments;
  • Transactions involving the sale, purchase, lease (for a term of more than 10 years) and other disposition of immoveable property and the registration of other rights relating to immoveable property;
  • Any document legally required to be attested before a notary public; and
  • Any other documents or transactions exempted by special provision of law.

The objects of this Law are as follows:

  1. To protect the rights of persons doing business electronically and determine their obligations;
  2. To encourage and facilitate Electronic Transactions and Communications by means of reliable Electronic Records;
  3. To facilitate and eliminate barriers to Electronic Commerce and other Electronic Transactions resulting from uncertainties over writing and signature requirements, and promote the development of the legal and business infrastructure necessary to implement secure Electronic Commerce;
  4. To facilitate the electronic filing of documents with governmental and non-governmental agencies and departments and promote efficient delivery of the services of such agencies and departments by means of reliable Electronic Communications;
  5. Minimize the incidence of forged Electronic Communications, alteration of Communications and fraud in Electronic Commerce and other Electronic Transactions;
  6. Establish uniform rules, regulations and standards for the authentication and validity of Electronic Communications;
  7. Promote public confidence in the validity, integrity and reliability of Electronic Transactions, Communications and Records;
  8. Promote the growth of Electronic Commerce and other transactions on the national and international level through the use of Electronic Signatures.

Duties of Signatory

One: A Signatory shall:

  1. not unlawfully use its Signature Creation Device;
  2. exercise reasonable care to avoid the unauthorized use of its Signature Creation Device;
  3. without undue delay, notify concerned persons if: a) the Signatory becomes aware that the security of its Signature Creation Device has been compromised; b) the circumstances known to the Signatory give rise to a substantial risk that the security of the Signature Creation Device may have been compromised; and
  4. where an Electronic Attestation Certificate is used to support a Signature Creation Device, exercise reasonable care to ensure the accuracy and completeness of all material representations made by the Signatory which are relevant to the Electronic Attestation Certificate throughout its life cycle.

Two: A Signatory shall bear the legal consequences of its failure to satisfy the requirements of
Section One of this Article.

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