How to Make an Online Signature Legally Valid

by Valentina Kaurin on 5/27/19

The legal value of an electronic signature is admissible when an electronic signature certificate can guarantee the identity of the signer. According to the law, only a trusted third party certified by an eIDAS accreditation can issue such a certificate.

The dematerialization of documents and contracts concerns all professions and service providers, such as banks and brokers, insurance companies, mutual societies, legal or recruitment professionals (HRDs), companies specialising in event organisation and sales departments.

This article lists the conditions to be met and the important notions for each of your clients' electronic signatures to constitute evidence in the eyes of justice:

Developments in Electronic Signature Regulations

Traditionally, a handwritten signature on paper has been defined as the only authentic act to sign a document. With the rise of electronic commerce, commercial and business law have had to evolve to enable the digital economy to execute a paperless contract within a given legal framework.

In the UK, this same act applies. At first, many companies have had doubts about the admissibility of an electronic signature due to the Electronic Communications Act 2000 because it does not explicitly provide details on this subject.

However, with the application of the European eIDAS Regulation, the Law Commission has clarified this issue and in fact confirms that electronic signatures are valid and serve as a means of authenticating a document.

Application of the European eIDAS Regulation

eIDAS (Electronic identification and trust services) is a regulation whose objective is to standardise the rules concerning electronic signatures at the European level, in order to create a climate of lasting trust between public administrations, companies and individuals.

This law sets higher standards for an esignature to have the same legal value as a handwritten signature. We will discuss the criteria further on in the article.

Let us discuss the guidelines of these standards.

According to the European eIDAS regulation, 5 criteria must be met for an electronic signature to hold legal value:

  • Criteria 1: An electronic certificate must be used by the person signing to authenticate his or her identity.
  • Criteria 2: The digital signature process must be compliant and meet high security standards; the process must be certified as compliant.
  • Criteria 3: The author cannot dispute his signature, it is irrevocable.
  • Criteria 4: The signed document must not be altered, cannot be modified; its total integrity must be respected.
  • Criteria 5: The obligation to keep signed documents in a secure electronic safe for ten years must be respected.

How to Obtain an Electronic Signature Certificate

The creator of a digital signature can only obtain their electronic signature certificate from a certified body called a trusted third party.

These trusted third parties are companies that are themselves certified by qualified authorities such as:

  • ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) the European standardisation body in the field of telecommunications
  • ANSSI, the French National Agency for Information Systems Security
  • LSTI, Cyber security and Trust Service Providers conformity

How to Recognize a Trusted Third Party

This company must provide you with its eIDAS certificate of compliance at your request.

This certificate confirms that this trusted third party meets all the requirements, namely:

  • compliance with the high standards of security and confidentiality required by eIDAS
  • the application of the RGS repository to encrypt signatures, in particular by cryptography
  • an integrated signature timestamp with probative value (date and time)

Trusted Third Parties or Certification Authorities

These trusted third parties certified in accordance with the eIDAS guidelines issue electronic signature certificates with probative value: their digital tracking system confirms the validity of commercial transactions and customer signatures.

The integrity of the data is guaranteed by the inalterability of the signed documents. The legality of signatures and transactions is reinforced by encryption standards, secure storage and retention procedures.


Signable was established in the United Kingdom for high performance quality and advanced technology. A highly user-friendly digital signing tool, Signable offers everything needed to satisfy your expectations.

Some of the companies that trust Signable are BMW, The Body Shop, Krispy Kreme and Hertz.

Some of the features include:

  • Maintenance support
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) model for storage outsourcing
  • Electronic Signature Validation
  • Electronic Document Signature
  • Document Time Stamp

To send an electronic signature:

  • Upload the document online
  • Fill in the requested information
  • Indicate the email address to which you wish to send it
  • The document will be sent along with a link to where the e-signature can be inserted

Signable is in compliance with the eIDAS regulation concerning digital identification and authentication in EU Member States. Therefore, any document that goes through Signable will be legally binding.


SignNow is designed for signing, sending and managing documents from virtually anywhere with any device. This electronic signature application simplifies the management of administrative documents within companies.

SignNow supports major platforms such as Salesforce, G Suite, Netsuite, Oracle and Office 365.

This tool makes it easier to manage commercial documents. There is no longer the need for printing out documents, signing them, scanning them and sending them all back to the recipient who then has to do the very same procedures again.


  • Option to request additional information
  • Send an email for document signing to multiple recipients at one time using templates
  • Option to have recipients digitally draw their signature to Esign rather than to have it typed
  • Option to request payments on documents online
  • Option to CC additional people


Approved by Fintech and Legaltech, Yousign provides electronic signature certificates throughout Europe.

Companies such as bpifrance, Verspieren (insurance broker), Allianz, FCA Capital France, Auchan, FMA assurances and Cadis Formation use the platform to digitize their workflows using electronic signatures, as well as to e-sign HR documents and financial documents.


Yousign provides a high standard of quality to ensure that an electronic signature has legal value that is beyond reproach:

  • The tool is eIDAS qualified, with a certificate of conformity in support
  • The solution benefits from a qualification and compliance certificate issued by ETSI
  • The platform also holds the RGS conformity certificate issued by LSTI, a certificate attesting to compliance with French, European and international safety standards
  • ANSSI has also included Yousign on its list of trusted service providers holding the Security Visa
  • An electronic safe is directly integrated into the software to store and archive signed documents

The legal issues of an e-commerce site are at the heart of digital issues: the digital signature must be reliable and the recognition of the signatory must be authenticated.

What is the validity of a scanned signature?

The legal value of a scanned signature is low: it is only the start of legal proof that must be reinforced by other evidence such as proven consent between the two parties of a contract.

The scanned signature can be contested and is not sufficient on its own as the only indisputable legal evidence: the free interpretation of the hierarchy of evidence is then left to the court judge.

How valid is an electronic signature on a PDF?

The legal value of an electronic signature on a PDF is fully acceptable when the document has been signed electronically using a certified tool that allows:

  • To identify the signatory through the electronic signature certificate
  • To guarantee the integrity of the PDF document
  • To identify the date and time of the signature through time stamping
  • To offer document tracking (conservation and secure archiving)

Only the procedures used by trusted third parties certified by eIDAS can guarantee the legal value of an electronic signature.