Overview of electronic signature law and its legality in Australia

Electronic signature laws were established in Australia in 1999 by the Electronic Transactions Act. According to the law, almost all documents can be signed using eSignatures.

Further reading

Is there a need to witness or register an electronic signature in Australia?

When it comes to witnessing an electronic signature, there are still no general legal acts or laws that specify such a moment.

At the same time, if there is a need to register a document with a third party, there can be a possibility to sign it electronically.

However, no one guarantees that this document with an electronic signature will be accepted without a valid wet-ink signature. Luckily for businesses, such issues are limited to specific documents and a few states.

What should I take into consideration when affixing an electronic signature in Australia?

There are a few points to consider: Who signs a document? What kind of a document is it? Was there an intention to sign? Let’s explore them below.

Who signs a document?

If an electronic signature can’t be verified, the same laws as a wet-ink signature apply. Therefore, any signatory must ensure maximum security to his/her credentials they use to sign documents electronically.

If a signatory uses a basic eSignature tool, they should have a secure password so that no one can use their account on their behalf.

These cases require professional electronic signature solutions with high-security measures to eliminate risks.

Read next:eSignature legality in New Zealand

What kind of a document is it?

A signatory should be aware that an electronic signature is affixed to the right document they are signing. Usually, this is not a problem as the eSignature solution offers signees the opportunity to check the document information one more time.

Moreover, it is of particular importance to ensure that no edits will be made to the document after it is signed. Once a contract is signed, it should be sent to both parties who can easily track any revisions.

Was there an intention to sign it?

Before applying an electronic signature to a document, there should be a clear call to action asking for the recipient’s signature. A signatory should have a solid understanding that they are one step away from signing a contract or closing a deal.

Of course, eSignature solutions should provide a final contract review. A signatory should have a chance to look through the document before applying an electronic signature to avoid mistakes and errors.