A Comprehensive Guide to Electronic Signature, from a Legal Perspective
There are increasingly popular applications of electronic signature, or e-signature, in our daily life in an era of Internet and digital technology. In addition to the e-commerce, it is already a common practice to transmit and retain files in electronic formats for business activities. However, legal instruments which are customarily regarded as more rigorous than e-commerce transactions are still generally forbidden or unnoticed for the application of electronic signature. In practice, the time-consuming traditional approach may not necessarily render a higher reliability. The Electronic Signature Law of the People’s Republic of China, released in 2005 and amended in 2015 (“E-signature Law”) provides legal grounds to determine the validity of electronic legal instruments. As computer science and cryptography advance and technologies become more robust to safeguard e-documents from tampering, public perception has gradually changed, hopefully leading to the popularity of electronic legal documents one day. Based on the E-signature Law, this article provides an overview to e-signature, including its definition, how to create an e-signature, its application and its recognition in judicial practice. We hope our readers may find it useful in the practice related to electronic legal instruments.