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Overview of eSignature Legality in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has legally recognized electronic signatures particularly for online transactions since 2000. The Electronic Transactions Ordinance (Cap. 553) ("ETO"), which was enacted in January 2000 and updated in June 2004, provides the legal framework for the recognition of electronic records and signatures, giving them the same legal status as their paper counterparts.
The ETO defines that any information shall not be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability on the ground that it is wholly or partly in an electronic form.
Electronic signature law
Electronic Transactions Ordinance provides for legal recognition of electronic messages
in commercial transactions
Are eSignatures legal, admissible and enforceable?
Summary of law
An eSignature is broadly defined as any letters, characters, numbers or other symbols in digital form attached to or logically associated with an electronic record, and executed or adopted for the purpose of authenticating or approving the electronic record.
Some attributes of an e-signature:
- The method used is reliable, and is appropriate, for the purpose for which the information contained in the document is communicated
- The signatory must attach or logically associate the electronic signature with an electronic record, in such a way as to identify themselves or indicate their approval of the contents of the record;
- All the involved parties involved must have a consent to the use of an electronic signature
Hong Kong has tiered eSignature laws that recognize standard eSignatures as legal and enforceable while giving digital signatures the same legal status as handwritten signatures.
According to the Electronic Transactions Ordinance, eSignatures shall not apply to the following transactions or documents:
- The creation of will, codicil or any other testamentary document
- Power of attorney
- The creation of trusts or deeds
- Negotiable instruments
- Government conditions of grant and Government leases.
- Oaths and affidavits.
- Statutory declarations
Disclaimer: This information is intended for general informational purposes only. It is meant to help companies understand the legal framework used for eSignature legality. This is not intended to be legal advice and should not be a substitute for professional legal advice. Consult a licensed lawyer for legal advice or representation.