Equivalence between electronic signature and handwritten signature

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The High Court of Cassation and Justice (“Romanian Supreme Court“) has confirmed in Decision no. 520 of 9 May 2019 (“Decision“) that documents submitted to courts in electronic format and bearing a qualified electronic signature have equivalent effects as physically submitted and handwritten signed documents.

The Decision came in the context where the Romanian Supreme Court had to examine the legality of an appeal notice filed via e-mail, where neither the e-mail having attached the notice of appeal, nor the document itself contemplating the notice of appeal had been signed (handwritten or electronically) and it represents an application of the principle set out under Romanian Law no. 455/2001 on electronic signature pursuant to which the formal validity of an electronic document for which the law expressly requires a written format would only be ensured by attaching to that document a qualified electronic signature.

Among the grounds of the Decision, the Romanian Supreme Court also upheld that the scanned copy of a handwritten signature does not comply with the requirements for qualified electronic signatures.