About Electronic Signatures

What is a Digital Signature?

A digital signature is a type of electronic signature which uses computer technology to create a unique ‘virtual’ fingerprint to identify users and protect information.    (An electronic signature is a more generic term to represent a digitised signature to verify a document.)

What are the legalities and validity surrounding digital signatures?

Electronic signatures are allowed in most countries globally and are seen as a more efficient and efficient method of authorisation and approvals than paper based signatures.

Electronic signatures have been recognised by law in Australia since 1999 when the Electronic Transactions Act was passed.  In New Zealand, it was 2002 when the legislation was passed.

Each country has its only Electronic transmission rules so you should refer to the relevant rules in respect to your country.

Under Australian law, contracts can be deemed valid regardless of being concluded verbally, electronically or in a physical paper document format.  The Transactions Act confirms that provided certain requirements are met a contract cannot be denied because it has been concluded electronically

The digital signing platform’s primary objective is to authenticate a signature – to confirm who is actually signing the document and protect the information from tampering.

It is crucial you select an electronic signing platform (such as FuseSign) to deliver a robust and secure method for your communications. 

How does FuseSign manage Digital Signatures?

FuseSign uses smart signing technology and ensures that the digitally signed documents all come with a strong assurance of validity – focusing on these 3 key elements

1. A strong level of user authentication / verification

FuseSign gives an extremely strong level of user authentication by its multi-factor authentication method (email and SMS) to identify users. This superior method of identifying a user gives increased certainty of the authorised signatory.  Each bundle of documents signed through the service is securely monitored and tracked with audit tracking.

2. Comes with a detailed audit trail (time and location details/ IP Address);

The FuseSign service collects location data and IP address to create a digital audit log against each document bundle so that at any time users can collect a record of when, where and how a document has been viewed, a user has been verified, and a document digitally signed.  This level of audit trail has been designed to give a strong level of assurance to the end users of each step in the transaction.

3. Is tamper proof and unable to be modified once complete.

FuseSign comes complete with a verifiable copy of digitally signed documents using Adobe Certification (X.509 certificate). Adobe ensures generation of a unique key that prevents the document to be modified once signed.   Each document comes with a comprehensive log of all transactions that occur between each party and assurance of no ability to tamper with the completed document.

The strength of FuseDocs rests with these 3 key features and gives comfort to you and your clients engaging digitally. 

References specific to the Australian accounting industry

Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

The ATO website mirrors the Electronic Transactions Act and clearly states “If information is required to be given in writing it can be given electronically if the person receiving the information consents to receiving it electronically.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)

ASIC’s business rationale for the use of digital signatures (in the epically titled EDGE Electronic Lodgement System Digital Signature Specification document) outlines that as long as documents have applied a private key associated with an X.509 certificate issued by an approved certification authority.

FuseSign uses the Adobe Certification to encrypt the data on the digitally signed PDF’s, therefore making it compliant with ASIC’s requirements.

New Zealand References

New Zealand – ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2002

The NZ ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT 2002 sets out rules to facilitate the use of email and other electronic technology as a means of conducting business. With some exceptions, information in electronic form is now on the same legal footing as paper-based information.

References Specific to The New Zealand Accounting Industry

New Zealand – Inland Revenue

Inland Revenue states on its website that it will accept an electronic signature on all documents and information that currently require a conventional signature, where this option is specified in the relevant document or associated guidelines.

For the purpose of this standard, an electronic signature is a secured authority that complies with the definition in section 209 of the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017.

The Contracts and Commercial Law Act 2017 (CCLA) specifically confirms that contracts cannot be denied enforceability merely because they are concluded electronically. In particular, under the CCLA an “electronic signature” is treated as the legal equivalent of a written signature when determining a party’s intention to be legally bound by an agreement or deed, provided that the signature meets certain criteria.

What may not be eligible for Electronic digital communication.

 You should satisfy yourself that the documents you want to have digitally signed are eligible and don’t have any specific exclusions.

This list is some examples that you should confirm, but do not take this list as exhaustive.

  • statutory declarations requiring a witness
  • powers of attorney in certain States
  • wills, codicils and other testamentary instruments
  • bills of exchange
  • the signature, lodgement, service and filing of documents in connection with legal proceedings in certain States/Territories
  • certain documents under legislation relating to health insurance, life insurance and general insurance
  • certain documents, notices, and consents used in connection with the provision of credit related services under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth)
  • transfers of intangible property, such as intellectual property
  • official Commonwealth documents such as passports


DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is for general information purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice.  You should seek your own legal advice on specific questions and validity of documents for electronic transmission.