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2 Defining regulatory principles

2.3 Electronic signature

On the 28th of August 2014, the Regulation (EU) 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This Regulation came into force on the 17th of September of the same year and it is obligatory since the 1st of July 2016 (known as e-IDAS Regulation). At a national level, Law 6/2020, of 11th of November, on several aspects of the electronic trust services, introduces specific regulations complementing the contents of e-IDAS Regulation in Spain.

Regulation 910/2014 defines the following concepts:

  • Electronic signature, data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign.
  • Advanced electronic signature means an electronic signature which meets the requirements set out in article 26.
  • Qualified electronic signature means an advanced electronic signature that is created by a qualified electronic signature creation device, and which is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures.
  • Certificate for electronic signature means an electronic attestation which links electronic signature validation data to a natural person and confirms at least the name or the pseudonym of that person.
  • Qualified certificate for electronic signature means a certificate for electronic signatures, that is issued by a qualified trust service provider and meets the requirements laid down in Annex I of the e-IDAS Regulation.
  • Electronic seal means data in electronic form, which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form to ensure the latter’s origin and integrity.
  • Advanced electronic seal means an electronic seal, which meets the requirements set out in article 36 of the e-IDAS Regulation.
  • Certificate for electronic seal means an electronic attestation that links electronic seal validation data to a legal person and confirms the name of that person.
  • Qualified certificate for electronic seal means a certificate for an electronic seal, that is issued by a qualified trust service provider and meets the requirements laid down in Annex III .of the e-IDAS Regulation.

In the structure of the e-IDAS Regulation, “an electronic signature shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic form or that it does not meet the requirements for qualified electronic signatures”, and therefore any electronic signature, whatever the type, has legal effect and must be admitted as evidence, although, as the e-IDAS Regulation states, only “a qualified electronic signature shall have the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature”.