eSignature Legality Summary

The use of electronic signatures in Qatar is regulated by the Electronic Transactions and Commerce Law No. 16 of 2010 ("the Law"). The Law recognizes the legal validity of electronic signatures and electronic documents, provided that certain conditions are met.

Types of eSignatures: The Law recognizes two types of electronic signatures - advanced electronic signatures and electronic signatures. An advanced electronic signature is a type of eSignature that is uniquely linked to the signer, is capable of identifying the signer, and is created using a secure signature creation device. An electronic signature, on the other hand, can be any symbol or process that is used to sign an electronic document.

Legal recognition: Electronic signatures are legally recognized in Qatar and carry the same legal weight as handwritten signatures. Electronic documents are also legally recognized and can be used as evidence in court.

  • Consent and attribution: The Law require that the signatory provides their consent to the use of electronic signatures and that the electronic signature is attributable to the signatory.
  • Security requirements: The Law sets out security requirements for the use of electronic signatures. For advanced electronic signatures, the secure signature creation device must be certified by an accredited certification service provider. For electronic signatures, the system used to create the signature must be reliable and secure.
  • Certification authorities: The Law allows for the accreditation of certification service providers who can provide services such as issuing and verifying digital certificates.
It's important to note that certain types of documents, such as wills and some types of contracts, may require a handwritten signature to be legally valid. It's also a good idea to seek legal advice before using electronic signatures for important documents.

Use Cases for eSignatures ?

Use cases where an SES is typically appropriate include:

  • Low risk Agreements: Simple electronic signatures can be used to sign low-risk agreements, provided that both parties have consented to the use of electronic signatures and the signature is attributable to the signatory.
  • Non-disclosure agreements: non-disclosure agreements can also be signed using simple electronic signatures, as long as the parties involved have agreed to the use of electronic signatures.
  • Service contracts: Simple electronic signatures may be valid for service contracts, such as consulting agreements or service level agreements, provided that both parties have agreed to use electronic signatures and the signature is attributable to the signatory.

Use cases for Qualified Signatures ?

Use cases where AES/QES is typically appropriate include:

  • Powers of attorney: An advanced electronic signature may be valid for powers of attorney, allowing someone to act on behalf of the signer, as long as the signature is uniquely linked to the signer and the signature is attributable to the signatory.
  • Sales contracts: Simple electronic signatures may be valid for sales contracts, such as purchase orders or sales agreements, provided that the parties have agreed to use electronic signatures and the signature is attributable to the signatory.
  • Invoices: Advanced electronic signatures can be used to sign invoices, provided that the signature is attributable to the signatory and the invoice is issued in compliance with the applicable regulations.
  • Banking and financial documents: Advanced electronic signatures may be valid for banking and financial documents, such as loan agreements and bank guarantees, as long as the signature is attributable to the signatory and the other legal requirements are met.
  • Government and official documents: Advanced electronic signatures can be used for signing government and official documents, such as tax returns and customs declarations, as long as the signature is attributable to the signatory and the other legal requirements are met.

Use Cases that are not appropriate for Electronic Signatures

Use cases that are specifically barred from digital or electronic processes or that include explicit requirements, such as handwritten (eg. wet ink) signatures or formal notarial process that are not usually compatible with electronic signatures or digital transaction management.

  • Notarization – real property title deed transfer
  • Notarization – granting a power of attorney
  • Notarization – signing the Articles of Association of a company with limited liability and any amendments thereof

“Digital Signature” means a transformation of a message using an asymmetric cryptosystem such that a person having the initial message and the signer’s public key can accurately determine
(a) whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key;
(b) whether the message has been altered since the transformation was made

[1] An AES is an “advanced electronic signature”, a type of electronic signature that meets the following requirements:
(a) it is uniquely linked to the signatory;
(b) it is capable of identifying the signatory;
(c) it is created using means that are under the signatory’s sole control;
(d) it is linked to other electronic data in such a way that any alteration to the said data can be detected.

[2] A QES is a specific digital signature implementation that has met the particular specifications of a government, including using a secure signature creation device, and been certified as ‘qualified’ by either that government or a party contracted by that government.

External Resources

DISCLAIMER: This information is intended to help you understand the legal framework of electronic signatures. However, eMudhra cannot provide legal advice. The law of electronic signatures is constantly evolving. This guide is not intended as a legal advice and should not serve as a substitute for professional legal advice. You should consult an attorney regarding any specific legal concerns. eMudhra, and all associates including agents, officers, employees or affiliates, are not liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary or consequential damages.