Introduction to electronic signatures

Electronic signatures have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their convenience and efficiency in managing contracts. We live in a technologically advanced world and can now sign contracts electronically. In South Africa, electronic signatures are recognized as a valid means of signing contracts, provided they meet specific legal requirements.

The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 25 of 2002 (ECTA), provides the legal framework for the use of electronic signatures in South Africa. According to the Act, an electronic signature is defined as “data attached to, incorporated in, or logically associated with other data and which is intended by the user to serve as a signature.” This means an electronic signature can take different forms, such as a scanned image of a handwritten signature, a typed name, or a digital signature.

Requirements for an electronic signature to be valid

For an electronic signature to be legally valid in South Africa, it must meet the following requirements:

1. Consent: The person signing the contract must have consented to sign electronically;

2. Reliability: The electronic signature must be reliable and appropriate for the purpose for which the contract is being signed. This means that the signature must be capable of identifying the person signing and indicating their approval of the contents of the contract;

3. Associaton: The electronic signature must be associated with the relevant data message or contract in a manner that confirms the integrity of the data message or contract.

In addition to these legal requirements, it is also essential to ensure that the electronic signature is secure and cannot be easily forged or tampered with. This can be achieved through the use of encryption and other security measures.


Overall, electronic signatures in South African contracts are valid and legally recognized. Ensuring that the electronic signature meets the legal requirements and is secure is essential to avoid any potential disputes or legal challenges.

Contact an expert at SchoemanLaw today for your legal needs.