Is e-signature legal in Poland?

July 11, 2023, 5:36 a.m.
Digitization has profoundly impacted multiple facets of our lives. One area where this is particularly evident is the shift from traditional paper-based processes to digital formats, especially concerning document signatures. A clear example of this change is the growth of e-signatures, a practical solution for signing documents remotely. But the question arises of the legality and applicability of these modern methods across the globe. In particular, let's delve into discussing whether e-signatures are legal in Poland.
Is e-signature legal in Poland?

Electronic Signature in Poland

Electronic signatures, also known as e-signatures, are defined as digital data attached to or logically associated with other electronic data used by the signatory to sign. The law categorizes e-signatures into three types: simple electronic signatures, advanced electronic signatures, and qualified electronic signatures, with each having a different level of security and legal value.

Is E-Signature Legal in Poland?

In Poland, e-signatures are indeed legal and widely recognized. The use of e-signatures falls under the Polish Civil Code and the Act on Trust Services and Electronic Identification (Ustawa o usługach zaufania i identyfikacji elektronicznej), which is the Polish equivalent of the European eIDAS regulations.
The Polish Civil Code maintains that unless explicitly stipulated by law, written or documentary form is not required in legal transactions, making electronic signatures perfectly legally acceptable. However, it is important to note that the law sets out special requirements for certain types of agreements to have enhanced signature requirements. For these contracts, an advanced e-signature or a qualified electronic signature would be necessary.
E-signatures were deemed legally acceptable in Poland in 2001 when the first regulations appeared. Later, the adoption of eIDAS in 2016 clarified the intricate legal environment and boosted the progress of e-transactions in Poland, contributing to the wider acceptance of e-signatures.

eIDAS and Poland

The eIDAS (Electronic Identification Authentication and Trust Services) regulations were adopted by the European Union in July 2016 to build a foundation for safe electronic interactions between businesses, individuals, and governments. These regulations are directly applicable in all EU Member States, including Poland, and they create a predictable regulatory environment to enable secure and seamless electronic interactions.
The eIDAS regulations provide a three-tiered approach to electronic signatures. This includes electronic signatures, advanced electronic signatures, and qualified electronic signatures. Although all three types are legally viable under eIDAS, only qualified electronic signatures have the equivalent legal effect of handwritten signatures.

Types of Electronic Signatures

The three types of e-signatures recognized by Polish law vary in their complexity level and the level of trust they can convey.
1. Simple Electronic Signatures: These are basic forms of electronic signatures and can be as simple as digitally pasting a signature onto a document. While they are generally legal and can authenticate a signatory, these types of signatures may not always be accepted, particularly in more complex transactions needing a higher level of security and verification.
2. Advanced Electronic Signatures: These are digital signatures uniquely linked to the signatory and capable of identifying the signatory. The signatures are tied to the electronic data they relate to in such a way that any subsequent modification of the data can be detected.
3. Qualified Electronic Signatures: These are an advanced form of e-signatures created by a qualified signature creation tool and based on a certificate for e-signatures.

Impact of E-Signatures in Poland

E-signatures have brought about a transformation in how business transactions and legal proceedings are conducted in Poland. Organizations can now expedite agreements without going through the laborious process of collecting physical signatures, ultimately enhancing business efficiency. In addition to convenience and speed, e-signatures also offer improved security by minimizing the risk of document alteration or forgery.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, e-signatures are indeed legal and accepted in Poland. They continue to gain traction thanks to their ease of use, convenience, and efficiency, especially in this digital age where businesses and consumers alike are seeking out methods that will save time and resources.
To mitigate any legal risks, businesses should understand the type of e-signature that is appropriate given the circumstances and requirements of the document that is being signed and ensure they are compliant with eIDAS and all related national legislation. With the right knowledge and application, e-signatures can be a potent tool in modernizing your business operations in Poland.

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