Advanced Electronic Signatures

Nov 23, 2020, 11:46 AM by Riaan De Villiers
The third installment in the series of articles that examines Electronic, Digital and Advanced Electronic signatures. Today's article focuses specifically on Advanced Electronic signatures.

Today is the last entry on our series of articles discussing electronic signatures, their weaknesses and how the weaknesses can be overcome by digital signatures. In particular we will discuss South African Advanced Electronic signatures.

Comparison between Electronic, Digital and Advanced Electronic signatures.
Comparison between Electronic, Digital and Advanced Electronic signatures


In South Africa, Advanced Electronic signatures are a subset of digital signatures. In order, to sign a document with an Advanced Electronic signature the signer must first be issued with an Advanced Electronic certificate that was issued by a South African Accreditation Authority (SAAA) accredited vendor.

In accordance to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ETC Act), a signer must first pass through a face-to-face identity verification process before the vendor can issue their certificate. The Act further stipulates that at the time of signing the signer must be authenticated with strong authentication to verify their identity.

Advanced Electronic signatures are deemed, by South African law, to be particularly reliable and carries prima facie validity. The prima facie validity means that the burden of proof is moved away from the defendant on to the plaintive. In the event that a dispute arises it is up to the person that disputes the signature to prove that the signature is not valid.

The high trust of Advanced Electronic signatures makes them ideal to secure high value transactions making them a valuable risk mitigation control any organization can rely on.

By law, the following documents must be signed with Advanced Electronic signatures:

  • Suretyships
  • Exclusive Licensing agreements
  • Credit agreements governed by the National Credit Act where signing does not take place in person
  • Where there is a legal requirement for the document, signature or statement to be notarised, acknowledged, verified or made under oath
  • Any document where a signature is required by law
  • Certification of documents as true copies
  • Notarisation of documents required by law.

To quickly summarise, this month we learned that electronic signatures are easy to use and can be very helpful in signing documents where the risk associated with a dispute is very low. Examples of electronic signing use cases: memos, attendance registers, leave claims, visitor forms and expense claims.

However, if you require protection in the event of a dispute, it is recommended that you employ digital signatures. The trust elements in digital signatures makes them ideal to protect organisations against disputes.

For peace of mind, Advanced Electronic signatures can provide you with the highest trust possible.

LAWtrust can help you understand your organisation’s digital signing requirements. Feel free to contact LAWtrust today to discuss digital signatures and the protection that they can offer you.

For further reading, you can look at the signing solutions that LAWtrust has to offer.

Load more comments