Generally, the following criteria must be met for electronic signature validity in all nine Australian jurisdictions – New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and the Australian Commonwealth Government:
- First Criteria: Electronic signatures should identify the person who is signing, and there should be evidence of the electronic communication intended for that person.
- Second Criteria: The electronic communication should have a method of authentication.
- Third Criteria: Recipients should consent to the method of electronic communication to execute the electronic signature.
Use of RSign, RMail, and RForms electronic signature services in their standard service implementations meet the standards for legal electronic signatures in Australia. RSign, RMail, and RForms e-signatures return a robust forensic audit trail and use cryptography to logically associate and digitally seal the original document sent for e-signature with Internet forensics associated with each signer, the signed copy, and uniform timestamps of each step of the process. The RSign, RMail, and RForms cryptographic seals render the e-sign record with its certified electronic signature certificate and/or Registered Receipt™ email record, an authenticable proof record.
Electronic Transactions Act of 1999 ensures electronic signature validity in the eyes of the law in Australia.
Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (ETA) governs the validity and use of electronic signatures in Australia. Almost all electronic documents related to business transactions are admissible legally with electronic signatures.
While employing electronic signatures, organizations in Australia should follow the requirements with regards to ETA:
- Both parties to the contract should agree to use electronic signatures.
- Electronic signature or electronic contract management platforms used for the agreement should record the digital transaction or communication.
- The platform used should use cryptographic techniques for authentication of the digital transaction or communication for security purposes, and it should also provide evidentiary proof that includes the record of transaction, timestamp(s) and details to identify the signee(s).
There are some exemptions to the validity of electronic signatures in Australia.
Most deeds executed in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia are required to be witnessed, so the validity of electronic signatures for deeds in these states is not applicable.
In Western Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, enduring Powers of Attorney should be witnessed.
Wills cannot be executed by electronic signatures without any exemptions in Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.