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INTRODUCTION

Electronic signatures in Saudi Arabia are primarily governed by the Electronic Transactions Law since 2007. The Law establishes the legal framework for recognizing the validity and enforceability of electronic signatures in various types of transactions.
Electronic Signature are legally recognized as a valid form of signature, and they hold the same legal status in Saudi Arabia as traditional signature.

Governing Laws and the Regulating Body:

  1. Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC): It is the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing and regulating electronic transactions in Saudi Arabia.
  2. Electronic Transactions Law of Saudi Arabia, 2007(ET Law): Governs the use of electronic signatures and records in Saudi Arabia.
  3. Implementing Regulations, 2008: These regulations provide further detailed procedure and conditions required for the use of electronic signature.

DEFINITION

  1. Electronic Signature: E-signatures in Saudi Arabia under the ETL means an electronic data included in, attached to or logically associated with an electronic transaction used to verify the identity and approval of the person signing it and to detect any change to said transaction after signature.
  2. Electronic Data: Data with electronic properties in the form of texts, codes, images, graphics, sounds or any other electronic form, whether combined or separate.

TYPES OF ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE

The ET Law doesn’t specifically mention the types of electronic signature allowed. Therefore, it is generally understood to accept various forms of electronic signatures.

Different technologies can be used, including digital signatures, biometric signatures, or other cryptographic methods, provided, any chosen method must meet the requirements as required under the law.

It is to further note that, the Law requires an explicit or implied consent for the execution of any electronic transaction by an individual.

REQUIREMENTS FOR A VALID E-SIGNATURE

The Implementing Regulations of 2008, under Article 10, provides for conditions and specifications for generating Electronic Signatures, an Electronic Signature will be valid if:

  • It is sealed by an authorized and valid digital certificate.
  • The signer’s identity data is verified and corresponds to the digital certificate.
  • The integrity of the electronic signature system/service and connection to the electronic data system is secured, maintained and free of any technical defects that might affect the validity of the signature.
  • The signature procedures and confidentiality of the data are managed in accordance with the technical conditions stipulated in the digital certification procedures issued by the National Centre for Digital Certification.
  • The signer has complied with all conditions stipulated in the digital certification procedures issued by the Centre.

The Electronic Transactions Law requires that the digital certificate be issued by a Certification Service Provider authorized by the Communications and Information Technology Commission or with a Digital Certificate approved by the National Centre for Digital Certification.

Electronic Transactions or Signatures that satisfy the above requirements can be admissible as presumptive evidence in legal proceedings. If it fails to be in-compliant with above conditions, the Law under Article 9 provides for various considerations to assess their reliability to qualify as evidence:

  • Method of creating, storing, or communicating an electronic record and the possibility of tampering therewith.
  • The method of maintaining the integrity of information.
  • Method of identifying the originator.

CONDITIONS WHERE TRADITIONAL SIGNATURES ARE NECESSARY

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, traditional signatures are needed in certain cases:

a) Property title deed transfer

b) Notarization

c) Granting a power of attorney

d) Signing the Articles of Association of a company with limited liability and any amendments thereof.

USE CASES

Following are the few cases where electronic signature can be used:

i. Contract Signing, such as commercial agreements, Trade and payment terms, NDAs

ii. Sale and business transactions

iii. HR related documents

iv. Financial transactions such as investment agreements, mortgage documents , etc

v. Real estate

vi. Health Care, for example, for consent forms, patient intake forms, and medical records.

vii. Insurance

viii. Academic institutions

CONCLUSION

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recognized the significance of electronic signatures and has enacted Electronic Transaction Law, 2008, which provides a legal framework for their use. Its legal recognition provides businesses and individuals with the ability to conduct a secure and legally binding electronic transaction.

DISCLAIMER

Disclaimer: Certinal is making available the information and materials in this article for informational purposes only and is meant to help companies understand eSignature’s application in a legal framework. Laws change rapidly and Certinal makes every reasonable effort to keep the content of this article current, hence Certinal makes no claims or representations that the information contained in this article is true, accurate, correct, or current. The law is different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and even similar laws may be interpreted differently in different courts or in different places. Since these factors differ according to individuals and businesses, Certinal is not liable for any consequence of any action taken by any third party relying on material/ information provided under this article. The contents hereof should not be construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. In cases you require any assistance; you must seek independent legal advice.
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