PracticePeople In PracticeE-signatures become legal in the UK

E-signatures become legal in the UK

An electronic signature is now legally admissible as evidence in court in the same way as a hand-written signature, the Department of Trade and Industry has announced.

The government believes this legal milestone will help the UK move a step closer to becoming a world in e-commerce because electronic signatures are seen as crucial if contracts are to be concluded over the internet.

From this week, should a dispute arise e-signatures will be admissible in a court of law which it is hoped will business confidence in the internet as a secure market place.

Under Section 7 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000 the UK has become one of the first countries in the world to allow electronic signatures and any certificate supporting them to be used as evidence in much the same way as a hand-written signature.

Sections 11 and 12 of the Act also come into force this week, streamlining procedures for amending telecommunications licences under the 1984 Telecommunications Act. In future licensees who do not respond to proposals made by the director-general of Telecommunications will no longer be counted as objecting to them.

Most of the Electronic Communications Act 2000 became law at the end of May when the Bill received Royal Assent, but a few clauses pertaining to the use of electronic signatures.

E-Bill given Royal Assent

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