Is it possible to sign the franchise agreement using an electronic signature (rather than a wet ink signature)?

Franchise & Licensing

Angola Small Flag Angola

There are no specific limitations of using physical or electronic signatures in Angola; it should be noted however, that Angola is not a very sophisticated jurisdiction, so the use of electronic signatures is still uncommon and therefore not recommended.

Canada Small Flag Canada

Yes. Pursuant to each province’s and territory’s e-commerce laws, electronic signatures on franchise disclosure documents, franchise agreements, and ancillary agreements, are just as valid as ink signatures.

Chile Small Flag Chile

Yes, local law recognizes that contracts signed by means of electronic signatures are valid and enforceable in Chile.

Denmark Small Flag Denmark

Yes, a franchise agreement can be signed using an electronic signature. There is no general requirement as to form under Danish law and franchise agreements are valid without any formality required. Consequently, an electronic signature has the force of a wet ink signature.

However, the Danish courts generally require a higher standard of proof that a binding contract has been concluded in regards to contracts with a high economic value.

Under the eIDAS regulation , electronic signatures have been divided into three (3) categories based on the level of security: (i) electronic signatures, (ii) advanced electronic signatures and (iii) qualified electronic signatures. Pursuant to the eIDAS regulation, the Danish courts must treat a qualified electronic signature in the same manner as a handwritten/wet ink signature.

Azerbaijan Small Flag Azerbaijan

Such possibility is provided on paper under the Law on Digital Signature and Digital Documents; however, its implementation is yet unavailable. The issue is that in order to be legally binding, digital signature must be accredited by the state. Currently, there is only two state-accredited signatures, both of them offered by the state itself and allowing access to the e-gov services. Integration is possible, however there’s been only one successful case as of recently.

Egypt Small Flag Egypt

The electronic signature is regulated under Law No. 15 of 2004. As per Article (14) of said E-Signature law, electronic signature can be used within the scope of civil, commercial and administrative transactions. As long as the signatory (signing party) has a registered and valid electronic signature in Egypt according to the regulations of the E-Signature law and its executive regulations, and must be registered at the competent authority, which is “Information Technology Industry Development Agency”.

France Small Flag France

Yes, so long as it provides a reliable means of identification and meets the legal requirements for a signature.

Greece Small Flag Greece

It is possible to sign the franchise agreement using an electronic signature provided that this signature has been certified by the Hellenic Telecommunication and Post Commission (“EETT”), in accordance with Regulation 910/2014/EC and Presidential Decree 150/2001.

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

No, the franchise agreement must be signed physically.

Lebanon Small Flag Lebanon

Article 4 of Law No. 81 dated October 10, 2018 related to Electronic Transactions and Personal Data states that the electronic writings and signatures shall have the same legal effect as the writings and signatures made on paper or any other medium, provided that the person producing them is identifiable and that they are organized and stored in a way that preserves their safety. Any electronic writing that does not meet the criteria above shall be considered as introduction of written evidence”.

Articles 9 and 17 of the same law state that the electronic signature should be issued through the use of a safe medium that identifies the signatory and provides a guarantee that the signature corresponds to the legal process in question. The signature must be linked to the protection measures authenticated by the authorized authentication service provider; thus, it is presumed to be reliable and to have satisfied the requirements unless proven otherwise.

China Small Flag China

Yes. The electronic signature in compliance with the legitimate form signed by parties in franchise agreement is legally recognized under the laws in China.

According to Article 13 of the Electronic Signature Law of the People's Republic of China (“ESL”), an electronic signature shall be deemed as reliable electronic signature if it satisfies all the following criteria: (1) when the electronic signature creation data is used for electronic signature, it is exclusively proprietary to the electronic signatory; (2) the electronic signature creation data is exclusively controlled by the electronic signatory at the time of signing; (3) any subsequent alteration to the electronic signature after the signature can be detectable; and (4) any subsequent alteration to the content and form of the data message after the signature can be detectable.

Peru Small Flag Peru

According to Law N°27269 and its Regulation, it is possible to sign the franchise agreement using an electronic signature. However, in Peru it is not common use electronic signature in commercial transactions. In addition, taking into consideration that disputes may arise and that it can be difficult to document the sufficiency and effectiveness of an electronic signature, we strongly recommend not to destroy the franchise agreement with wet-ink signatures, even if they have been signed using electronic signature.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to use a wet ink signature, and then, legalized it before a Notary Public.

Philippines Small Flag Philippines

There is no prescribed type of signature for the perfection of a standard franchise. Consensual contracts are perfected the moment parties reach an agreement, whether they do so verbally, in writing, or via electronic means. When the agreement, however, involves real property, local law requires that the contract appear in a paper-based public document.
The Philippine Electronic Commerce Act (“E-Commerce Act”) further provides that no contract shall be denied validity or enforceability on the sole ground that it is in the form of an electronic document. Hence, agreements perfected electronically shall produce the same legal effect had the parties written the same on paper.

New Zealand Small Flag New Zealand

Yes, so long as the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 is complied with.

Russia Small Flag Russia

Yes, it is possible to sign the franchise agreement using electronic signatures of the parties. However, Rospatent will accept either the original, or certified copy of the contract. Therefore, electronic signatures may not be advisable from the franchise registration (i.e. technical) perspective.

Norway Small Flag Norway

The franchise agreement can be signed using an electronic signature. For the event of a dispute regarding the genuineness or authenticity of the signature, it is recommended that the process leading up to the signed agreement and events after the signing can be documented to support the claim of genuine execution of an agreement. This could for example include written summaries of negotiations, e-mail correspondence, copies of board decisions etc.

United States Small Flag United States

Yes. In 2000, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (“E-SIGN”) was enacted to give electronic signatures, contracts and records the same legitimacy as handwritten and hard copy documents. E-SIGN provides generally that a signature, contract or other record “may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.” E-SIGN defines an “electronic signature” as “an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” E-SIGN does not provide any additional, specific standards for electronic signatures and contains no provisions dealing with the attribution of electronic records or signatures to the signatory.

All states have adopted laws concerning the use of electronic documents in commerce. The vast majority of the states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“UETA”) with certain state/territory-specific variations. By way of example, New York has not adopted the UETA, but it has enacted the Electronic Signatures and Records Act (“ESRA”). Like E-SIGN and the UETA, the ESRA also defines an “electronic signature” as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the electronic record.” The ESRA provides that “unless specifically provided otherwise by law, an electronic signature may be used by a person in lieu of a signature affixed by hand. The use of an electronic signature shall have the same validity and effect as the use of a signature affixed by hand.” The ESRA is very brief and does not provide any other authentication or attribution standards. Therefore, like E-SIGN, under the ESRA there is no requirement to follow a particular authentication process other than receipt of an electronic sound, symbol or process that is logically associated with the contract and given with intent that a record be signed. Therefore, a code or password system intended to be a signature to a record would create a valid electronic signature.

Because federal and state laws leave open the exact procedures needed to authenticate an electronic signature, the following steps are some “best practices” which may help ensure the incontestability of an electronic signature:

  1. Require the signer to show a clear intent to sign the document by typing their name or clicking an accept box.
  2. Include an express contractual provision indicating that the parties mutually agree to effect the transaction via electronic signature.
  3. Provide each party to the agreement with a fully signed copy of the document

Italy Small Flag Italy

Italy was among the first Countries to grant electronic signatures the same legal status of wet ink signatures.

The requirements that the electronic signature must meet in order to be considered valid under Italian law are contained in art. 24 of Legislative Decree 82/2005 (the Digital Administration Code), as recently amended.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

The legislation governing the use of electronic signatures across all EU Member States is known as 'eIDAS', or fully named 'EU Regulation 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC'. Since eIDAS is an EU 'regulation' it required no enacting legislation at a national level and automatically came into force in all Member States on 1 July 2016. The UK has also passed the Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions Regulations 2016 ("EITSET Regulation") which came into force on 22 July 2016. These repealed the Electronic Signature Regulations 2002, which implemented the old E-Signature Directive into UK law and amended relevant sections of the Electronic Communications Act 2000 (ECA 2000) which dealt with electronic signatures under the previous regime.

Under English law, in the absence of a statutory requirement concerning the form of a particular contract, a contract can be created with no structural formality through email correspondence or by means of other electronic communications, such as phone text messages or messenger services.

Franchise agreements, unless they are to be signed as a deed under English law, do not need to be in any particular form and as a consequence there are no restrictions on the use of electronic signatures. Where franchise agreements are to be signed as deeds, the signature of the signatory has to be witnessed by someone physically present when the document is signed.

Updated: October 15, 2019