HR Home Forums Community Employment letters signed via DocuSign are legal in the eyes of the courts?

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  • Conner Lantz
    Keymaster
    Post count: 4836

    Good afternoon,
    please advise, if possible, employment letters signed via DocuSign are considered to be a legal document in the eyes of the courts?
    Thank you.
    Mirella

    Conner Lantz
    Keymaster
    Post count: 4836

    Yes, electronic signatures are considered legal and enforceable across Canada. Electronic signatures are recognized and accepted throughout the industrialized world; they’re also more secure than traditional paper-based signatures and thus less susceptible to forgery. In Canada, an e-signature has the same legal status as a handwritten signature. (Are Electronic Signatures Legal in Canada? DocuSign)
    In Canada, Part 2 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) provides a regime that establishes electronic equivalents to paper-based documents and signatures at the federal level. Part 2 of PIPEDA defines an e-signature as “a signature that consists of one or more letters, characters, numbers or other symbols in digital form incorporated in, attached to or associated with an electronic document.” Essentially, an e-signature can be virtually any form of electronic representation that can be linked or attached to an electronic document or transaction, including:

    • user authentication to an internal application to approve something, such as when a supervisor logs into an application to approve a leave request
    • using a stylus on a tablet touchscreen to write a signature by hand and capture it in electronic form
    • a typed name or signature block in an email
    • user authentication to access a website, coupled with a mouse click on some form of acknowledgment button to capture intent
    • a scanned hand-written signature on an electronic document
    • a sound such as a recorded voice command (for example, a verbal confirmation in response to a question)

    There are also some cases where Part 2 of PIPEDA requires the use of a particular class of e-signatures, referred to as a “secure electronic signature.” A secure e-signature is a form of e-signature that is based on asymmetric cryptography. Specific use cases where Part 2 of PIPEDA requires a secure e-signature are:

    • documents used as evidence or proof (see PIPEDA Part 2, section 36)
    • seals (see PIPEDA Part 2, section 39)
    • original documents (see PIPEDA Part 2, section 42)
    • statements made under oath (see PIPEDA Part 2, section 44)
    • statements declaring truth (see PIPEDA Part 2, section 45)
    • witnessed signatures (see PIPEDA Part 2, section 46)

    Government of Canada Guidance on Using Electronic Signatures

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