Legality of E-Signatures in Thailand

With the increasing spread of internet usage and electronic delivery of documents, the demand for clarity on the legality for electronic signatures in Thailand is growing. E-Signatures (electronic signatures) are markings, letters, numbers, or symbols that are created in electronic form that establish the signatory acceptance of the contents of the electronic document.

The benefits of e-signatures are undeniable. There is instant delivery of contracts without the need for couriers, physical signing, meetings, and the management of paper files. However, there has been slow acceptance in Thailand of e-signatures because of the lack of clear directives and the legality of such signatures. Because the legality of e-signatures are unclear, physical signatures on contracts are still preferred in Thailand.

Electronic signatures are governed by the Electronic Transactions Act of 2001. The Act legally recognizes electronic data messages as functional equivalents to paper documents. In regards to e-signatures, there is a legal presumption of reliability of e-signatures as long as the method is capable of identifying the signatory and indicating the signatory’s electronic approval of the e-contract is reliable.

Section 26 of the ETA states that an electronic signature is considered to be a reliable electronic signature if it meets the following requirements:

  1. the signature creation data are, within the context in which they are used, linked to the signatory and to no other person;
  2. the signature creation data were, at the time of signing, under the control of the signatory and of no other person;
  3. any alteration to the electronic signature, made after the time of signing, is detectable; and
  4. where a purpose of the legal requirement for a signature is to provide assurance as to the completeness and integrity of the information and any alteration made to that information after the time of signing is detectable.

While Section 26 of the ETA seems clear, it actually complicates the process of e-signatures because the provision forces the parties to bring in a third party to certify the authenticity of the e-signature. The recipient of the signature needs to be assured of the signatory’s identity, the document has not been modified, and that the e-signature is authentic. The signatory may need to sign up with a certification service to assure that only the signatory has access to the e-signature.

Another issue with e-signatures is section 11 of the Electronic Transaction Act. While Section 7 of the Act creates an equivalency between physical signatures and e-signatures, section 11 of the ETA leaves the weight of e-signatures at the discretion of the court.

  • Section 11. The admissibility of a data message as an evidence in the legal proceedings shall not be denied solely on the grounds that it is a data message.
  • In assessing the evidential weight of a data message whether it is reliable or not, regard shall be had to the reliability of the manner in which or the method by which the data message was generated, stored or communicated, the manner in which or the method by which the completeness and integrity of the information was maintained, the manner in which or the method by which the originator was identified or indicated, including all relevant circumstances.

The legal reliability of e-signatures in Thailand is still unclear. E-signatures should be a simpler, less costly, and less time consuming alternative to traditional contract signatures but the certification requirements reduces or eliminates e-signature’s advantages. Section 11 leaves the legal weight of e-signatures to the court system. Both of these issues have tempered the use of e-signatures in Thailand.

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Category: Business in Thailand, Electronic Transactions Act

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Siam Legal is an international law firm with experienced lawyers, attorneys, and solicitors both in Thailand law and international law. This Thailand law firm offers comprehensive legal services in Thailand to both local and foreign clients for Litigation such as civil & criminal cases, labor disputes, commercial cases, divorce, adoption, extradition, fraud, and drug cases. Other legal expertise of the law firm varied in cases involving corporate law such as company registration & Thailand BOI, family law, property law, and private investigation.

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