Electronic signatures in Thailand
Electronic signatures have begun to become more and more popular as a method for signing documents. The widespread use of smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices have helped e-signatures become a new normal.
Additionally, e-signatures have many advantages over traditional signatures as they are a quick and convenient way for people to sign documents.
In this article, we take a look at how and when an e-signature can be used in Thailand.
- E-signatures can be used for most contracts in Thailand including commercial contracts and employment contracts..
- Any document which requires registration with the Thai authorities CANNOT be signed using an e-signature (such lease agreement for a period of more than 3 years).
What is an e-signature?
Thailand has recognised the legal validity of Electronic Signatures (e-signatures) since the enactment of the Electronic Transactions Act, B.E. 2544 (2001) (“ETA”).
The ETA describes an e-signatures as being,
“letters, characters, numbers, sound or any other symbols created in an electronic form and affixed to electronic data for specifying the relation between an individual and such electronic data, for the purposes of identifying the signatory relating to such electronic data”.
E-signatures also amount to proof that the recipient has received and accepted the information contained in such electronic data.
Where can an e-signature be used?
Transactions where an e-signature can be used
E-signatures can be used for the following types of transactions.
Transactions that are void or unenforceable unless there is a written document signed by the relevant parties, but where registration with the authorities is not required. For example, rental leases (not exceeding three years) and other forms of commerical contracts.
However, while in these scenarios it is legal to use e-signatures there may still be issues with the validity of these contracts and signatures. If such a case were to arise, the following two conditions must be satisfied:
- a method is used whereby the signatory is identifiable and it is possible to prove that the signatory has approved that the information contained in the electronic data belongs to him; and
- such a method is reliable and appropriate for the purpose for which the electronic data was generated or sent, considering surrounding circumstances or an agreement between the parties.
In scenarios such as this “reliable” refers to :
- the security and strictness of the methods and equipment;
- the nature, kind and size of the transaction, the number of occasions on which or the frequency at which transactions take place, trade customs or practice and the importance and the value of the transactions made; and
- the strictness of the communication systems.
Transactions where an e-signature cannot be used
Currently, Thai law explicitly disputes the legality of e-signatures for transactions relating to family and succession matters (Royal Decree Prescribing Civil and Commercial Transactions which are Exempted from the Application of the Law on Electronic Transactions, B.E. 2549 (2006)).
Also, any transactions which require registration with government authorities typically cannot use e-signatures. An example of this would be, a transaction relating to the transfer of land which needs to to be registered with the Land Office. This type of transaction cannot be completed by using an e-signature as the authority has not adopted internal regulations to allow registration by using electronic documents and e-signatures.
What are the obligations of the signatory and party relying on the e-signature?
Under the ETA there are a series of obligations imposed on the signatory and party relying on the signature.
The signatory shall:
- At all times exercise reasonable care to avoid unauthorized use of their e-signature;
- Notify any person that may reasonably reasonably be affected by the loss, damage, compromised, unduly disclosed or known in a manner inconsistent with its purpose of an e-signature.
A party relying on the e-signature shall:
- Take reasonable steps to verify the e-signature.
E-signatures are becoming more and more common as a means of signing a document. However, it is always important to consider whether the document you are signing will be valid if you use an e-signature.
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