What Is An Electronic Signature?

We’re likely to see a large increase in electronic document signing over the next 12 months through real estate agencies. At Jeff Jones we were “early adopters” of the technology, having documents signed through the DocuSign® system now for 2 years. DocuSign® is The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management. Each day we can have dozens of documents leaving our office with electronic signatures. We wanted to answer some questions about the technology for those being asked to complete paperwork in this manner.

 

Are electronic signatures permitted legally?

Yes. The Electronics Transactions (Queensland) Act 2001 sets out the requirements for electronic signing.

 

What are the benefits?

For our business electronic signing offers two clear benefits. Time and clarity.

Many of our documents are required to be signed by multiple parties, sometimes up to 6. By sending the document electronically all parties can sign independently with the final, fully signed and completed document “compiled” by the DocuSign system.

There has been provision for some time to fax and email documentation. When a document has been scanned multiple times it can often be difficult to read. An electronic copy does not “deteriorate” no matter how many times viewed.

 

What documents can be signed electronically?

In theory nearly all documents for personal and business use. Some stakeholders (e.g certain government departments) still require a handwritten signature, care should be taken to check on an individual basis. Personally over the last 12 months we have found a steady increase in the acceptance of electronic signatures. The Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) is a notable exception, who are insisting on handwritten signatures on Bond Lodgement Forms at this stage.

We most frequently utilise digital signing for the following documents:

  • General Tenancy Agreements
  • Appointment Of Property Agent Forms
  • Sale Contracts
  • Entry Notices
  • Entry and Exit Condition Reports

 

Why are there are no witnesses?

Keen-eyed document readers may have noticed the witness box is empty on electronically signed paperwork. No “witness” is required when signing electronically. The documents are sent securely to the intended recipient creating a complete and extensive audit trail that serves as third-party validation of transaction completion, including information such as the signer’s email address, name, authentication method, IP address with time stamp, and more.

 

Electronically signing has significantly improved the effectiveness of the document signing process in our business.