How trust works online - legal basis of e-signatures

E-signatures are now a common practice worldwide. Simply a link to a place where you can review your document and draw up a signature is sent to your email. However, have you ever thought why and how it actually works? Everyone could just draw whatever signature in the computer, then claim they did not sign this document. Or can they?

Speed up e-signature processes with Agrello
Get started

14-day free trial. No credit card needed!

What is consent?

To understand what is a signature in general, we must first understand where it stands in basic legal framework. It is important to state that the following explains signature in a default private sector legal setting. There can always be exceptions, which regulate the actual form of a signature in some cases.

In private sector, legal agreements are made more often than we notice. This is because in some agreements we are so trustful about its successful execution that we do not use the measures that could protect us if the opposite side fails to comply. Generally worldwide, a contract is everything where there is an offer and an acceptance. There are some details which might vary from system to system but are not relevant for mentioning for the purpose of this article.

The offer and acceptance events are only binding if there was consent from the person to provide the offer or acceptance. Basically, consent is the skeleton that holds the contract together. In private sector, law does not stipulate how to show consent to be bound by a contract. Law does also not stipulate how to prove consent by the opposing side. I repeat though, there are exceptions. Thus, it is important for the parties to make sure that there is consent from the other side and most importantly, that it can be proved in court. Consent can be shown verbally, by an act, like a payment, or in a form of a signature.

Signature is the simplest way of providing and proving consent in physical world. One thing though, that is commonly neglected, is that when a handwritten signature is given, it should be checked immediately against a travel document, which has a signature example in it. This is to compare, whether the signer wants to do tricks or actually wants to be a part of the contract.

Therefore, make sure that you are getting consent and signatures in a way that makes sure that you can later prove the link of the consent to the contract and the link of the right person to the right consent. This becomes trickier as we delve into the digital world.

How consent is electronically achieved?

In virtual world, the notion of a signature is somewhat scrambled. The problem is that some e-signatures do not actually carry any legal weight with them and thus are not considered as a consent in itself. Such
e-signatures have been popularized by DocuSign and Adobe. However, I am not saying that signing through DocuSign and Adobe means legally nothing. Such e-signature systems are built with the legal framework of proving consent in mind. This means that even if the drawn e-signature has little to none legal force, then what it has is the metadata that was gathered during the signing process. These are email addresses, IP addresses and other metadata which support provenance of consent.

Now some of you might also think that the latter is not enough for proving consent and you might be partially right. The information that is provided by the e-signature platforms go only halfway when proving consent. To prove the consent of the opposing party email address and IP might not be enough. Then proof must be found by putting together the digital persona of the signatory, which hopefully matches the real person behind the signature. The necessary digital persona can be put together among else from circumstantial evidence, which could be previous communications between the parties, previous use of the email (to link the email to a certain person) or has the party already executed some parts of the contract. Mostly these elements exist in business relations and the risk that a signature would be fake or challenged is incremental.

However, not all instances in life have room for the risks being encompassed by such vague method of managing consent. For example many consumer services, healthcare and airline industries. Such business environments need electronic consent mechanisms that do not have any room for fraud, hacking or legal challenging. This is where the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) comes in. PKI makes sure that the link of consent to the terms and the person is assured with the signature itself.

Thus, if you need strong digital signatures and do not want to take any risks, check out our Agrello identity verification based digital signing possibilities from agrello.io. If you just need something simple for putting your initials on a document, you can check out our simple electronic signature features.

Speed up e-signature processes with Agrello
Get started

14-day free trial. No credit card needed!

Find out what are the levels of digital signatures according to EIDAS and which methods of signing are supported on Agrello platform. Find out what are the levels of digital signatures according to EIDAS and which methods of signing are supported on Agrello platform.
March 3, 2022
What level signatures can you give on Agrello platform?
Clock icon
Reading time about
1
min
What to take into account when choosing Between Free and Paid E-Signature Tools: A ComparisonWhat to take into account when choosing Between Free and Paid E-Signature Tools: A Comparison
February 8, 2024
Choosing Between Free and Paid E-Signature Tools: Which Way To Go?
Clock icon
Reading time about
7
min
In this article we give an overview of how the signing process has changed over time. In this article we give an overview of how the signing process has changed over time.
September 15, 2023
The Evolution of Signing Processes: From Paper to Digital Signatures
Clock icon
Reading time about
5
min
In this article, we will highlight the importance of understanding a contract before signing and discuss the common risks involved.In this article, we will highlight the importance of understanding a contract before signing and discuss the common risks involved.
July 7, 2023
Signing a Contract Without Understanding It: A Guide for Savvy Professionals
Clock icon
Reading time about
7
min
In this article we will focus on different type of signatures and highlight some ways how you can seal your contracts with ease.In this article we will focus on different type of signatures and highlight some ways how you can seal your contracts with ease.
July 6, 2023
The Art of Contract Signing: Sealing the Deal with Ease
Clock icon
Reading time about
6
min
In this post we will explore the broad strokes of e-signatures, and how they can fit into your business processes.In this post we will explore the broad strokes of e-signatures, and how they can fit into your business processes.
July 4, 2023
Harnessing E-Signatures for a Smooth Operational Flow
Clock icon
Reading time about
4
min
Learn what PAdES signature is, how it works and how to use it to securely sign your PDF-documents. Learn what PAdES signature is, how it works and how to use it to securely sign your PDF-documents.
April 18, 2023
Secure Your PDF Documents with PAdES Signatures
Clock icon
Reading time about
10
min
Discover how Workspaces can help you and your team collaborate more efficiently, streamline tasks, and manage projects from start to finish. Discover how Workspaces can help you and your team collaborate more efficiently, streamline tasks, and manage projects from start to finish.
February 13, 2023
Workspaces for more efficient teamwork
Clock icon
Reading time about
4
min
Looking back at the year 2022, what big events and changes happened? Read on to find out the highlights of the year 2022 and what happened globally. Looking back at the year 2022, what big events and changes happened? Read on to find out the highlights of the year 2022 and what happened globally.
December 23, 2022
Year 2022 in review
Clock icon
Reading time about
4
min
Learn how a digital contract signing platform can help increase productivity for SMEs. Find out how to take advantage of this technology.Learn how a digital contract signing platform can help increase productivity for SMEs. Find out how to take advantage of this technology.
November 25, 2022
Ways to increase SME productivity with a contract signing platform
Clock icon
Reading time about
5
min
Loe lähemalt, kui lihtne ja mugav on digitaalne allkirjastamine Agrello platvormil peale viimaseid uuendusi. Loe lähemalt, kui lihtne ja mugav on digitaalne allkirjastamine Agrello platvormil peale viimaseid uuendusi.
October 21, 2022
Muudame allkirjastamise veel kiiremaks
Clock icon
Reading time about
4
min
Agrello just made signing documents easier and faster by introducing an improved signing experience. Agrello just made signing documents easier and faster by introducing an improved signing experience.
October 21, 2022
Signing experience just got better
Clock icon
Reading time about
4
min
Agrello and PDFTron have joined forces to bring you improved PDFs with more features and easy digital signing options.Agrello and PDFTron have joined forces to bring you improved PDFs with more features and easy digital signing options.
March 1, 2022
Agrello + PDFTron: your PDFs just got better
Clock icon
Reading time about
15
min
Agrello is now offering qualified electronic signatures to its users, allowing them to sign legally binding documents online. Discover all the benefits of this service and find out how it can help you streamline your business processes.Agrello is now offering qualified electronic signatures to its users, allowing them to sign legally binding documents online. Discover all the benefits of this service and find out how it can help you streamline your business processes.
February 23, 2022
Qualified electronic signatures now on Agrello
Clock icon
Reading time about
10
min
Revisit the highlights and achievements of Agrello's 2021. Learn about the progress Agrello has made in the past year and what their plans are for the future.Revisit the highlights and achievements of Agrello's 2021. Learn about the progress Agrello has made in the past year and what their plans are for the future.
December 17, 2021
Year 2021 in review
Clock icon
Reading time about
15
min
Read about data-rich signatures and signature meta-data on Agrello platform. Read about data-rich signatures and signature meta-data on Agrello platform.
August 6, 2021
Agrello web app 3.3: Data-rich digital signatures
Clock icon
Reading time about
4
min
E-mail is an essential tool for businesses, but it also comes with some risks. Find out if it is time to switch to a safer communication system.E-mail is an essential tool for businesses, but it also comes with some risks. Find out if it is time to switch to a safer communication system.
May 13, 2021
Should businesses stop using e-mail?
Clock icon
Reading time about
5
min
Learn how to manage your online presence, from creating an online identity to navigating the digital world with tips and advice from Agrello. Learn how to manage your online presence, from creating an online identity to navigating the digital world with tips and advice from Agrello.
March 11, 2021
Managing our online existence
Clock icon
Reading time about
7
min
Learn how trust works online with verified digital signatures. Discover how digital signatures add security and increase trust in online transactions.Learn how trust works online with verified digital signatures. Discover how digital signatures add security and increase trust in online transactions.
February 25, 2021
How trust works online - verified digital signatures
Clock icon
Reading time about
8
min
Find out what a digital identity is and how it differs from digital persona.Find out what a digital identity is and how it differs from digital persona.
January 28, 2021
Understanding our digital existence: digital identity versus digital persona
Clock icon
Reading time about
10
min
We are proud to announce that Toomas Pihl has been appointed as Agrello's new CEO.We are proud to announce that Toomas Pihl has been appointed as Agrello's new CEO.
April 27, 2020
Welcome the new CEO Toomas Pihl
Clock icon
Reading time about
9
min
Agrello is providing a comprehensive solution for digital identity and agreements. Get an overview of the changes and how they will benefit users.Agrello is providing a comprehensive solution for digital identity and agreements. Get an overview of the changes and how they will benefit users.
April 15, 2020
Winds Of Change In Agrello
Clock icon
Reading time about
5
min

Want to know whether Agrello fits you?

Get in touch with us.  Let’s discuss your needs and see how Agrello matches those.
Harry Käsk
Harry Käsk

Soovid teada, kas Agrello vastab sinu vajadustele?

Proovi 14 päeva tasuta, ilma et peaksid midagi maksma või krediitkaarti sisetama. Küsimuste korral võta julgelt ühendust.
Laura Findley
Laura Findley
Harry Käsk
Harry Käsk