We all know very well about the benefits of electronic signatures. With its help, many companies have improved the flow of documents in the company and allowed employees to solve many problems without going to the company’s office or branch.
This modern solution allows the company to speed up the flow of documents, save time and money, and implement systems aimed at automating as many processes as possible in the company. However, many people are concerned about the legal force of electronic signatures. Therefore, we decided to prepare this short article. We will describe the status of electronic signatures in Polish and EU legislation and describe the three main types of electronic signatures.
Electronic signature in Polish law
Electronic signature has been used in Polish legislation since September 18, 2001. However, the act applied at that time was annulled on October 7, 2016, and a new law was adopted in its place. Accordingly, an electronic signature is information in electronic form that is used to identify a person.
Such a signature is legally equivalent to a manuscript, provided that the relevant conditions are met. Article 25 of the Law additionally states that an electronic signature has legal force and can be accepted as evidence in court proceedings.
Types of electronic signatures
The EU Directive (1999/93 / EC) distinguishes three types of electronic signatures. Each subsequent has a higher degree of reliability. They are:
- Electronic signature – Author’s declaration submitted in electronic form. The purpose is to reveal his identity. This could be, for example, an online pdf signature containing his name and surname.
- Advanced electronic signature – is the most popular type of digital signature. In this case, due to the application of appropriate technical measures, it is clearly linked to the author and the document submitted by him. It is also more difficult to falsify such a signature, thus ensuring an acceptable level of security.
- Qualified electronic signature – This is a more advanced form of advanced electronic signature. Such a signature meets special organizational and technical requirements. Use of this signature form requires the use of a private key stored on a cryptographic card. Such a signature also has a certificate issued by a qualified certification body.
The second document legally regulating electronic signatures in Poland is EU Regulation 910/2014, known as eIDAS. This describes the advanced electronic signature mentioned earlier. It sets out the detailed requirements that must be met with such a signature.
First of all, there must be such a signature is assigned uniquely to the signatories. This means that each signature must have a unique signature assigned to it and cannot be used by anyone else. This is similar to a traditional signature, where two people do not sign exactly the same signature.
An electronic signature should not only be unique, but also unique Identify the person signing. Compared to a traditional signature, you should be able to read who signed the document. Thus, we can already see the first advantage of the electronic signature form. Thanks to him, we can undoubtedly identify the person who signed the document. As we know in the case of traditional signatures, this is not always possible.
This is another important condition that an advanced electronic signature must fulfill only the signer has access to it. Otherwise, a situation may arise in which someone uses your electronic signature and tokens instead.
The last basic condition for the advanced electronic signature of the EU rules is its existence is related to the document in which it is stored. So here comes the real advantage of electronic signatures. This means that if any changes are made to a document that has already been signed, it will be visible and traceable. As a result, an electronically signed document is more secure for the signatory.
Date of signing
The above-mentioned EU rule also provides for the possibility of recording an electronic signature with a date. This allows you to determine with a high degree of confidence when a particular document was signed. Unlike a signature, the signer has no effect on the date on the document, it is automatically assigned by the installed certificate. This eliminates the possibility of entering history earlier, and thus fraud.
The legal side of electronic signatures is associated with many suspicions of users. Some people do not understand that an electronic system can have the same legal force as a physical signature on paper. However, the reality is different. Under both Polish and EU law, an electronic signature that meets the requirements of the Law has the same legal effect as a pen signature. Therefore, we invite you to learn more about this technology, we are confident that it will have a positive impact on the performance of your company and you will quickly learn and understand its advantages.