The novel coronavirus has caused major disruption to both business and individuals. Consequently, businesses had to adapt very quickly to the “work from home” reality. One important aspect of work is signing a variety of paperwork including legally binding documents. Thus, the use of electronic signatures has become prominent.
Businesses had to adapt very quickly both technologically and practically. So far, it seems to have worked out without complications which begs the following question: will business go back to handwritten signatures when the current situation normalizes? If history is an indicator, it won’t be too long before a handwritten signature is as rare as using a quill pen or a wax seal.
At CKLB we embarked on the e-signature journey long before the pandemic and are not looking back. In our office, this “new normal” has improved efficiency and added flexibility.
The electronic signature was introduced into Mauritian law effective in 2001 and fully phased-in in 2010.
The Electronic Transactions Act provides that no signature will be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form. An “electronic signature” means an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the electronic record.
Uses deemed as not appropriate for electronic/digital signatures are documents that include explicit requirements (“wet ink” signatures) or formal process of notarization. These documents are not compatible with electronic signatures or digital transaction management.
Some examples include:
- contracts for sale/transfer of real estate.
- deeds and long-term leases for a period of more than 20 years
- wills and codicils
- license of intellectual property, IP transfers and employee invention agreements
Around the world
The various Act(s) promulgated in both the European Union and the United States between 1999 and 2016 grant the electronic signatures the same legal status as the handwritten ones.If electronic/digital signature rules are materially different in your country, please let us know. We are confident that our membership would find this information useful.