Interesting article by Richard Oliphant published by the Law Society on cloud-based digital signatures: dealing with concerns about the cross-border validity and enforcement of electronic signatures; helpfully outlining the distinction between electronic and digital signatures; and arguing that law firms should opt for digital signatures because:

  1. They are more secure and reliable, as the digital signature is encrypted and bound to the document itself.
  2. A  third-party trust service provider (TSP) verifies the identity of the signatory so that the other party to the document has greater assurance that the signatory is who they purport to be. By contrast, the basic authentication tool for an electronic signature is an email address – which may easily be spoofed.
  3. Once the signatory has been authenticated by a TSP, they can reuse their digital certificate to digitally sign other documents via the e-signing platform.
  4. Digital signatures carry more evidential weight in any court dispute over the authenticity or integrity of the document.
  5. The use of public key cryptography (PKI) substantially reduces the risk of repudiation in a cross-border deal. The signatory is the only person with access to the private encryption key and cannot deny they created the digital signature.
  6. Qualified electronic signature (QES) is the ‘gold standard’. It has the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature and benefits from mutual recognition across all EU member states.