Hong Kong

The Electronic Transaction Ordinance (ETO) in Hong Kong Law provides that a handwritten signature is not always needed for a valid contract. Transactions ordinance Act 2000 (ETO) legally recognises E-signatures in Hong Kong. Generally, contracts are valid as long as legally competent individuals have reached an agreement, which can be through verbal, electronic or written means.

However, E-signatures cannot be used to sign the following documents: testamentary documents, trusts, power of attorney, documents concerning land and property, negotiable instruments, court orders/judgment, court warrants, oaths and affidavits, statutory declarations.

For accessing the ordinance, please check the following link: https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/

For additional information on electronic signature, please refer to this FAQ: https://www.ogcio.gov.hk/en/regulation/eto/faq/

Singapore

E-signature has been recognised by law in Singapore through the passage of the Electronic Transactions Act 2010 (ETA). Contracts are generally valid when two parties reach an agreement; this could be oral, electronically or written. A written signature is not necessary for a contract to be valid, Section 8[1] of the ETA gives criteria that an electronic signature must meet to be recognised as satisfying any rule of law requiring a signature.

However, E-signatures cannot be used to sign the following documents: wills, negotiable instruments, document of title. Bills of exchange, promissory notes, consignment notes, bills of lading, transferable document, declaration of trust or power of attorney, contract for the sale or other disposition of immovable property.

For accessing the statute, please check the following link: http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/

Australia

E-signature was legally recognised in Australia through the introduction of the Electronic Transaction Act 1999. Under Australian law, a handwritten signature is not necessary for a valid contract. In general, a valid contract requires an agreement between the parties. Contracts will not be denied enforceability merely because they have been concluded electronically.

Under S10(1) ETA, for the e-signature to have the same legal effect as a handwritten signature, there must be:

  • consent by the recipient to receive information electronically;
  • the method of signing must identify the person sending the information, and indicate that this person approves of the content of the electronic document signed; and
  • having regard to all of the circumstances of the transaction, the method of signing must be as reliable as is appropriate for the purposes for which the electronic document was generated. Alternatively, evidence of the identity of the signor and their approval of the contents of the electronic document must be self-evident in the document or otherwise available in some other manner.

However, E-signatures cannot be used to sign the following documents: statutory declarations requiring a witness, power of attorney, testamentary instruments, bills of exchange, documents concerning insurance (i.e health, life), some property transactions in South Australia, transfers of intangible property (i.e Intellectual property), official commonwealth documents (i.e passport).

For accessing the legislation, please check the following link: https://www.legislation.gov.au/

New Zealand

E-signature has been made legally admissible in New Zealand; they are governed by the Electronic Transactions Act 2002.

E-signatures are not required to be in any specific format however they must:

  • Adequately identifies the signatory;
  • Adequately indicates the signatory's approval of the information to which the signature relates; and (Intent)
  • be as reliable as is appropriate given the circumstances.

An electronic signature is sufficiently reliable if:

  • the means of creating the signature is linked to the person signing and no-one else, and
  • the means of creating the signature was under the control of the person signing and no-one else, and
  • any changes to the signature are detectable, and
  • any changes to the documents are detectable (data integrity).

However, E-signatures cannot be used to sign the following documents:document that requires a very high level of integrity (i.e a will), document that has no electronic equivalent (i.e negotiable instrument), in transactions where the policy objective would be undermined, where electronic dealing would require a legislative change (i.e land transfer documents).

For accessing the legislation, please check the following link: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/

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