Digital has invaded our lives. It is therefore normal that he also invited himself to companies. We use the internet to receive messages, we make video conferences, we share files in the cloud… We can also sign important contracts online. This is called electronic signature and this process cannot be improvised. It is not enough to copy/paste your signature for it to have legal value. Let’s see in detail the legislative framework, the use, the rules to apply, and of course how to sign your documents online.
An act that has precise rules
When it comes to signing important documents (agreements, contracts, etc.), many companies still use paper. But with the pandemic, companies realized that sharing documents could be problematic. They therefore turned to “virtual signature” but it is not enough to make a few clicks for this signature to be legally valid.
Signing a document online must follow different legal texts. This online signature has been recognized in France (and in Europe) since 2000 (law no. 2000-230). Its legal value is established in articles of the Civil Code 1366 and 1367. In 2016, the eIDAS (Electronic Identification And Trust Services) regulation appeared and will ratify the process and establish three levels of security: basic (simple scanning of the signature, without any particular legal value), advanced (SEA, implemented via certified creation data) and qualified (SEQ, follows the requirements of the National Information Systems Security Agency). The more important the document to be signed, the higher the level of security must be. However, to obtain a qualified electronic signature, it is imperative to go through an electronic certification service provider (PSCE). The signature is then recognized as being specific to the signatory, produced by means exclusively used by the signatory and not being falsifiable.
Use this process correctly
To sign a contract online, invoices, quotes, accounting statements, purchase orders, real estate contracts or to transfer money securely, this signature is required today.
But for this signature to have real value, it must be certified and authenticated. For this, it is recommended to go through a service provider who will formalize the signature by the law. Naturally, you can do without it but the legal framework must be respected in all respects for the signature to be recognized. Without this, all documents you have signed may be invalidated.
The simple signature (you sign your documents by yourself and must be able to prove that this signature is indeed yours) can be contested, which is not the case with an advanced signature via a service provider. In this case, the signature is considered reliable in court.
Using an online signature saves considerable time. No need to travel to carry or sign the document, and no archiving (everything is online). No need for storage space, no costs linked to postal delivery, printing of documents…
A very simple signature recognized by law
For your signature to be legally valid, it must be advanced or qualified. And for this, it is imperative to go through a PSCE. You will thus be able to obtain a certificate which guarantees the value of the initial.
Once in contact with a service provider, you will only have to do a few things sign your documents, share them, and then put them away. Everything is done online. You download the document to sign, you initial it then send it to the appropriate person. That’s all. Then simply store it in your cloud archives. You have access to the document whenever you want, and can follow the progress of an agreement without wasting time.