Organizations that are thinking of operating in Singapore or already operate in Singapore may have concerns as to whether e-signatures or electronical signatures are legally admissible in Singapore. And the answer is: electronic signatures on electronic documents have the same legal protection as wet ink signatures in Singapore.
Since 2010, Singapore has started recognizing e-signatures as legally admissible in its courts.
Scope of Electronic Signatures in Singapore
Singapore was the first country to adopt UNCITRAL Model Law (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) in the world.
With a vision to become a fully digitalized country and evolve as a global digital economy, the Singapore government adopted UNCITRAL Model Law. Local and international companies in Singapore are encouraged to conduct electronic transactions. Thus, e-signatures are commonly used across Singapore. There is a distinction between electronic signatures and secured electronic signatures.
The following criteria must be met for an electronic signature to be valid in Singapore:
- There must be an electronic record of the transaction, and its reliability and integrity must be assured.
- The sender and receiver in the transaction must be available to view the transaction details such as timestamps, email addresses and other details.
- The associated compliance in provisioning, managing and retention of electronic records must be met.
Use of RSign, RMail, and RForms electronic signature services in their standard service implementations meet the standards for legal electronic signatures in Singapore. RSign, RMail, and RForms e-signatures return a robust forensic audit trail and use cryptography to logically associate and digitally seal the original document sent for e-signature with Internet forensics associated with each signer, the signed copy, and uniform timestamps of each step of the process. The RSign, RMail, and RForms cryptographic seals render the e-sign record with its certified electronic signature certificate and/or Registered Receipt™ email record, an authenticable proof record.
The following criteria must be met for a secured electronic signature to be valid:
- The electronic transaction record must be verifiable with timestamps and proof of evidence.
- The electronic transaction record must be able to identify the signee.
- The electronic transaction record must be immutable.
In addition to the above, a secured electronic signature must follow a specified procedure or methodology to secure the electronic signature.
RSign also includes advanced identity services.
As per Singaporean laws, both electronic and secured electronic signatures are admissible when compliant technology and authentication is used.
However, there are a few exemptions from use of electronic signatures in Singapore:
- Declaration or execution of powers of attorney.
- Any transferable document that entitles the bearer or beneficiary to claim the delivery of goods or the payment of a sum of money.
- Contract for the sale or other disposition of immovable property.
- Conveyance of immovable property.
- Transfer of any interest in immovable property.
Overview of Singapore’s Electronic Transactions Act (ETA)
Singapore’s Electronic Transactions Act (ETA), first introduced in the year 1998, and later amended in 2010, governs all digital services including electronic signatures, electronic contracts, ecommerce, electronic records, etc.
ETA is not limited to provisioning legal validity to electronic signatures, contracts, records and transactions; it also encourages businesses in Singapore to embrace electronic transactions and communications aligned with international practices.