United Arab Emirates
eSignature Legality in The United Arab Emirates (Onshore United Arab Emirates and Dubai International Financial Centre)
Electronic signatures are legal in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) and are covered by Law No. (1) of 2006 On Electronic Commerce and Transactions (“UAE Electronic Transactions Law”) and DIFC Law No. 2 of 2017 (“DIFC Electronic Transactions Law”).
eSignature/Digital Signature Legality Summary
The UAE Electronic Transactions Law, which states that “a contract cannot be deemed invalid or unenforceable solely because it is in electronic format”, this is the primary law governing the use of electronic signatures in Onshore United Arab Emirates.
The DIFC Electronic Transactions Law states that “where any provision set out in any other DIFC law requires the signature of any person…that provision set out in the other DIFC law is satisfied if an Electronic Signature is used”, according to the law “Information shall not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in the form of an Electronic Record,”.
Types of Electronic Signature
“Any letters, numbers, symbols, voice, or processing system in electronic form applied to, incorporated in, or logically associated with an electronic message with the intention of authenticating or approving the same,” according to the UAE Electronic Transactions Law.
The UAE Electronic Transactions Law defines a “Secure Electronic Signature” as an electronic signature that can be verified through the application of a prescribed or commercially reasonable secure authentication procedure to which the parties agree that an electronic signature was:
It’s one-of-a-kind for the person who uses it;
Capable of identifying the individual;
Was under the sole control of the signatory at the time of signing in terms of the creation data and the means employed; and
It is linked to the electronic record to which it relates in such a way that it provides reliable assurance of the signature’s integrity, such that if the record is changed, the electronic signature is invalidated.
An “electronic signature” is defined as a “electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record, “According to the DIFC Electronic Transactions Law”, unlike the UAE Electronic Transactions Law, does not recognise or grant greater validity to electronic signatures created through a secure authentication procedure.
Documents that can be electronically signed
The UAE Electronic Transactions Law and the DIFC Electronic Transactions Law do not impose specific electronic signature requirements on transactions, but they do prohibit the use of electronic signatures for certain documents and/or transactions. It is recommended that any company wishing to execute company resolutions electronically pass a board resolution explicitly stating that such resolutions can be passed electronically.
According to the UAE Electronic Transactions Law, a person can rely on an electronic signature to be valid and enforceable if the reliance is reasonable. If reliance was not reasonable under the circumstances, a party relying on an electronic signature or secure electronic signature assumes the risk that the signature was forged absent proof to the contrary.
According to the DIFC Electronic Transactions Law, an electronic signature is valid if it is deemed to identify the relevant person and to indicate the person’s intention with respect to the information contained in the electronic record, as long as the electronic signature is:
As trustworthy as possible for the purpose for which the document or record was created or communicated, taking into account all circumstances, including any relevant agreement, or
Proven to have performed the functions described, either alone or in conjunction with other evidence.