What is an eSignature?

An electronic signature or eSignature is a term used to describe a class of methods for electronically replicating or replacing a paper signature (a paper signature is sometimes called a ‘wet signature’ referring to the use of ink and to distinguish it from an eSignature).

There are many ways in which an eSignature can be created, including:

  • scanning a paper signature and inserting it in an electronic document (or multiple documents over time);
  • clicking on an “agree” button on a website;
  • signing using a digital pen, finger or a mouse onto a trackpad;
  • typing your name; or
  • using a web-based authentication system to affix an electronic version of your signature to a document.

The concept of an eSignature has not been defined by Australian law. The UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures 2001, defines an electronic signature as follows:

“Electronic signature” means data in electronic form in, affixed to or logically associated with, a data message, which may be used to identify the signatory in relation to the data message and to indicate the signatory’s approval of the information contained in the data message.