How does digital signing with the notary work?

Digital signature - Notary
For a few years now, notaries have started to use a tablet and a stylus to digitally sign legal documents in their offices. Although the profession is still strictly governed from a legal point of view and regularly requires people to sign documents in person, remote digital signing is now possible in certain specific cases, thereby simplifying notaries’ everyday work.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blogpost is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (legal) advice. Connective does not warrant the information contained herein is up-to-date or accurate nor we make any statements on how you should use Connective eSignatures for specific use cases. Please note legislation applying to digital signatures is changing quickly and may differ in each jurisdiction. If you have questions about the content or statements made in this blogpost, or about whether Connective’s solutions fit the needs of your organization, please reach out to a legal professional in your region.

Digital signing: what are we talking about?

Digital signing is a technology that enables you to place your signature on a document in digital format via an electronic certificate.

For the document to have real legal value, it must meet the minimum legal requirements enabling a digital signature to be considered valid, which are established by EU Regulation no. 910/2014, referred to as ‘eIDAS’. This regulation is applicable in the whole European Union.

The digital signature must also be done by a third party recognised as a Qualified Trusted Service Provider who has been audited and given certification by the country’s supervisory authority.

There are three levels of digital signature, each with a different level of security. These are:

  • The simple signature: this is the most basic form of the digital signatures, like a simple tickbox on a digital document.

  • The advanced signature: with a higher degree of security, it must identify the signatory and ensure that any subsequent alteration of the data is detectable.

  • The qualified signature: this offers the highest level of security. In addition to the criteria mentioned above, it must also be possible to do it with a qualified digital signature creation system and be based on a qualified digital signature certificate.

Remote digital signing: the notary’s specific case

Although the signing of legal documents at the notary’s requires you to be physically present, the French Superior Council of Notaries recalls that the signing of certain documents managed every day in notarial studies may be done digitally and remotely, provided that an advanced eIDAS certified digital signing solution is used. Advanced signing is essential to authenticate the signatories securely.

Mind that some other jurisdictions require the use of a qualified electronic signature for the digital signing of notarial deeds, documents and/or powers of attorney. Please refer to your local legislation to identify the level of security required in your territory.

Remote digital signing with the notary concerns the following documents:

  • Fee agreements
  • Powers of attorney
  • Preliminary sales contracts
  • Private deeds
  • Financial accounts

What are the advantages of remote digital signing for notaries?

One of the first advantages of implementing remote digital signing with the notary for certain documents is the possibility of maintaining business with clients in difficult situations. For example, in the event of a pandemic that requires travel and physical contact to be limited.

Another important advantage is the acceleration of the signing process when the parties are geographically far apart. Let’s take a very concrete example. The implementation of advanced digital signing offers a considerable time saving for notaries in the property sector, enabling two people located in different regions to sign a preliminary contract quickly. And we know that in this case, bringing the two parties together in person can often be complicated.

More generally, advanced remote digital signing offers a better client experience, thanks to the simplification of restrictive administrative procedures.

In conclusion, digital signing greatly simplifies the notaries’ everyday lives, by enabling them to focus more on their core business.

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