E-sign also known as electronic signature is a symbol or other data in digital format that is attached to an electronic document and applied or adopted by a person with an intent to sign. With the increasing globalisation among countries, the inter-connections among countries have also emerged in the world of trade and commerce. Apart from Sec. 3A of Information Technology Act, 2000 which defines electronic signature and the other provisions of the legislation, The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, enacted in 2000 and frequently referred to as the “E-Sign Act”, is the federal statute governing electronic transactions and electronic signatures. In the current world order, internet plays an essential role in communication between parties due to which electronic contracts have emerged as a prospective Thereby, electronic signatures have taken a fore front in the process of globalisation due to convenience of both the parties in the execution of deeds while being situated in different time zones. While the initial analyst had debated on the legality of electronic signatures, the current world order has observe that most countries of the world have drafted their special legislations which aim to make electronic signature a valid form of communication through the enforcement of various safety measures.
Most corporations or organisations often formulate an agreement known as the e-sign consent agreement which allows the parties to provide electronic versions of important notices and documents associated with opening an account along with relaxation from legalities, if in case something arises in the future. Apart from the usual form of e-signatures, the e-signature consent agreement mainly applies to certain specific documents and notices. The consent usually does not apply to account documentation during the lifetime of the account. It also mentions the provision of withdrawal of consent of the parties and the conditions attached along with it. Withdrawal usually mentions that in case either of the parties withdraw their consent to e-signature then that particular party or both the parties will not receive the electronic document. It is to be notified clearly that this does not mean the prime contract between the parties is terminated but the specific documents will not be transmitted through electronic means among the parties concerned. The ever increasing demand of electronic signatures among the business entities of the world has tilted the preference towards electronic signature rather than manual signature.
The selection of electronic signature results in saving costs among the parties as several external costs like travel, printing results in budgetary benefits. Electronic signature solutions allows the parties to upload documents and successful add their signature in the document which is a convenient and agreed form of communication towards acceptance of the contract. At the similar process, time is also solved because the parties do not have invested in travelling among the countries of business or origin of either of the parties.
Though initially it was believed that adoption of electronic signature will decrease customer satisfaction because majority of the population depends in the use of manual signature or even thumb signature but it has been observed in the corporate transactions, clients are comfortable with the online contract signing procedure.
The increasing inter-connection between countries have resulted in creasing international investment among them as the parties can communicate their terms of business to each through online contracts and thereby sign the contracts online once the agreement is acceptable and valid to both the parties.
With the legal protection guaranteed by legislations of various countries, and organisations have adopted e-sign as a form of communication between the parties because any form of manipulation of a contract that involves electronic signature will result in making the contract invalid
Internet connects the world together due to which people are often unable to recognise each other. In situations of hacking, the electronic signature of a party or person concerned can be stolen and used for other illegal purposes. Thus, this might result in manipulation of e-sign on agreements.
In certain developing countries like India, where there are huge section of the population who is not aware of an entity called internet would not find the mechanism of e-sign a comfortable format of communication. The illiteracy level also has a direct relation with the use of e-sign agreements
Certain measures must be implemented at the inception of the electronic transaction to ensure the validity of an electronic signature in a agreement or any specific document or available record, and to ensure their admissibility in court in the situation of any arising litigation concerning the agreement is required. From the above discussion, it be stated that e-sign or electronic signature on agreements are a valid form of communication which is widely accepted legally. There are certain conditions attached with the validity of e-sign which has to be followed by the authority executing the signature.