Electronic Signature in Canada
Published on July 20, 2020
In 1996, the UN adopted the Law on Electronic Commerce, and in 2001, the UN adopted the Law on Electronic Signatures (e-signatures). These laws were used to implement the legal principles inherent in e-signatures in most countries of the world.
In Canada, the Conference on Standardization of Canadian Legislation was held in September 1999, which then led to the adoption of the Uniform Electronic Commerce Act. Each Canadian province, excluding Quebec, has adopted the same rules established by this law, so e-signatures are regulated by both Federal and provincial legislation.
Quebec laws concerning e-signatures can be found in the Quebec Civil Code and in the Act to Establish a Legal Framework for Information Technology.
At the Federal level, the use of electronic signatures was officially approved by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which came into force in 2004.
In the Canadian law there is no recognition of advanced (AdES) or qualified (QES) electronic signatures like the higher levels of assurance often classified in other countries. Canada only applies a standard e-signature (SES), defined by UECA as “electronic information that a person creates or adopts in order to sign a document and that is in, attached to or associated with the document”.
According to the law, each type of e-signature is equal to a physical one and is fully authorized by the court if the requirements for the security of the e-signature (e-signature) were met, namely:
– The e-signature should be unique and distinctive.
– The e-signature should be created under the exclusive control of the signatory.
– The e-signature can confirm the identity of the signatory.
– The e-signature is protected by technology that can detect any subsequent changes in the document.
In this regard, in Canada and Quebec, a handwritten signature is not required to recognize a contract as valid, this can be done by oral, electronic or physical consent. However, such agreements may need to be supported by other evidence in court.