Overview of electronic signature law and its legality in Singapore
Digital signatures became legal in Singapore in 2010 with the passage of the Electronic Transactions Act (ETA). The ETA gave digital signatures the same legal priority as handwritten signatures. This means eSignatures can be used in both legal and general business settings.
Overview of Singapore’s legal model
Singapore has a tiered legal model, which means that electronic signatures are admissible in court. If two competent parties come to a verbal, written, or electronic agreement, then that contract is considered legally valid.
However, there are exceptions to this rule, and in some instances, additional proof may be required to validate a signature. According to the ETA, electronic forms can be used to support the validity of a contract.
Singapore operates under a Common Law legal system. This system is based on written laws and puts a lot of emphasis on legal precedents in determining how these laws should be enforced. Common Law legal systems are used in roughly 30% of countries worldwide, including the United States and the U.K.
Overview of the Electronic Transactions Act (ETA)
Electronic signatures are legal in Singapore, thanks to the Electronic Transaction Act (ETA). Singapore originally passed the ETA in 1998, and it provided a legal framework that governs all digital services, including e-commerce, electronic contracts, and digital signatures.
In 2010, the ETA was updated to bring it more in line with the United Nations’ guidelines on electronic communication. The latter version was updated to provide greater flexibility for how electronic transactions should be handled.
The ETA was created with four basic principles in mind:
- Countries need to observe and incorporate international standards;
- There needs to be flexibility when it comes to technology;
- Governments should avoid over-regulating citizens;
- Laws should be predictable and transparent.
The ETA covers a variety of issues pertaining to electronic documents, including electronic contracts and eSignatures. In particular, the ETA establishes that digital signatures and handwritten signatures are given the same legal weight.
When are eSignatures appropriate in Singapore?
In Singapore, eSignatures can be used to sign legally binding documents. Electronic signatures are appropriate for the following types of documents:
- HR documents;
- Employment contracts;
- Non-disclosure agreements;
- Copyright agreements;
- Software licensing agreements;
- Commercial agreements;
- Consumer contracts.
When are handwritten signatures required?
However, in spite of the widespread use of electronic signatures, some documents do still require handwritten signatures. This includes things like:
- Power of attorney;
- The transfer of a sale;
- Promissory notes.
Can I use PandaDoc eSignature software in Singapore?
Yes, PandaDoc electronic signature software can be used in Singapore. Our built-in eSignature software is UETA and ESIGN compliant. And after every contract that is signed, you’ll receive an electronic form. This will allow you to validate each contract easily.
If you’re interested in learning more about how our software works, you can try it for free for 14 days.