Once upon a time, you had to be there to sign it. But with the advent of digital signatures, sign-off on decisions and contacts can go ahead without delay and without the need to get signatories and legal team in the same room. Even better, an e-signing solution is easy to set up technically – often, it can be done in less than 24 hours. But a word of warning: you do need to consider the step carefully.
Our colleague Peter Schepens and his team have a lot of experience in introducing e-signing within companies and would be happy to help you with advice and action. You can reach Peter by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on (+31) 06 54781568. Peter and his team can help you with:
- Advice about the different e-signing solutions on the market (DocuSign, Adobe Sign, HelloSign, etc) and how to choose between them
- Advice on the legal validity of e-signing and e-signatures in different jurisdictions
- Setting up electronic signing in your organisation (taking into account the authorisation matrix)
- Placing documents in the digital environment
- Sending contracts to signatories
- Short-term steps you can take
Given the current crisis, we suggest beginning by taking out one or two web licences with DocuSign (number 1 in digital signatures worldwide) or Adobe Sign (number 2 worldwide). The benefit of a web licence is that the e-signing environment is made available quickly. Usually this is done immediately, and at least within 24 hours. This ensures that you can immediately begin signing documents internally and externally. The cost of a licence is around EUR 40 per month per licence. DocuSign even offers a discount for the first year. Note that you only need a licence if you send contracts and decisions for signature – the signatories do not need a separate licence. This is why signing up for just a few licences is often sufficient at the start. licensees then just prepare files for signing by “drag & drop” uploading them to the digital environment. They can do this because the e-signature solution is not dependent on the other software used by their company.
If you start with one or two licences, every contract and decision must be signed by the person or people who hold the licence. This may require a change to the current process. However, this change can be a benefit if it enables the legal department to assume a bigger role in the process and so create more added value within the company. And as an e-signing system enables external parties to sign the contract remotely, your employees can reduce the amount of time they spend on administrative tasks and focus on more important matters. And here’s another tip: when choosing digital signing software, consider how well it will integrate with your corporate housekeeping/ legal entity systems. We would be happy to advise you on this so that you can connect them easily, either immediately or in the future.
One final thing, about the legal position of e-signatures: in almost every country, e-signing is recognised as creating a legally valid agreement. Some countries, including those in the EU, require an advanced digital signature. Both the business licences of DocuSign and Adobe Sign both offer this possibility. In addition, a digital signature records the IP address and time of signing and links these to the actual document. This ensure there can never be a difference of opinion about which version the parties have signed.