Legal Insights

Technology in contracting

• 23 April 2017 • 1 min read

Councils often ask us – how can we use technology to simplify contracting?

Councils often ask us – how can we use technology to simplify contracting? Using electronic signatures is one way of streamlining operations.

But are they binding like an ordinary signature?

In short, they are. Electronic signatures have the same legal effect under law in Australia if certain conditions are met. The Electronic Transactions (Victoria) Act 2000 (Act) provides guidelines for the acceptance of a signature of a person via electronic communication.

But there are risks. Electronic signatures may not be witnessed like a traditional signature, meaning there is greater possibility of misappropriation of the electronic signature or changes to a document after application of the electronic signature.

To combat these risks, digital signatures have been developed, which are a form of electronic signature with added benefits. The main difference is that a digital signature is linked to information or data that can be verified by using a digital signature platform.

Has your council considered using a digital signature platform? How will your council handle queries about the validity of electronic signatures if they are implemented?

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