eSignature Legality Summary

eSignatures are legally valid and admissible in the court of law. Sri Lanka follows an open model where e-signature can be submitted in court. Specific use cases for eSignatures are indicated in the ET Act.

The Electronic Transactions Act No. 19 of 2006 in Sri Lankan law highlights that a handwritten signature isn’t always needed for a contract to be considered credible, and that contracts can’t be refused for simply being electronic. They’ll usually be seen as such as long as legally able individuals have reached an agreement (this can be by agreeing verbally, electronically or by physically signing something). Under Section 21 of the ETA, e-signature solutions can be used to give electronic records that are admissible as evidence to support contracts in court.

*The information on this site is "AS IS" and for general information purposes only.

Use Cases for eSignatures ?

Use cases where an SES is typically appropriate include:

  • End user agreements including sales & service terms, new retail account opening documents, invoices, shipment details, user manual, EULAs, policies

Use Cases for Qualified Signatures ?

Use cases where an AES is typically appropriate include:

  • Purchase, procurement and commercial agreements including invoices, trade and payment terms, certificates, NDAs, sales & distribution agreements, order acknowledgements.

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 (e.g. wet ink) signatures or formal notarial process that are not usually compatible with electronic signatures or digital transaction management.

  • Handwritten - A license issued to a telecommunications system operator is required to be in writing (as under Section 17 (6) of the Telecommunications Act No 25 of 1991 (as amended) read with Section 23 (b) of the ETA)
  • Handwritten - A bill of exchange is required to be reduced to writing and duly signed by the maker of the instrument (electronic record and electronic signature insufficient) (as under Section 3 (1) of the Bills of Exchange Ordinance No 25 of 1927 (as amended) read with Section 23 (c) of the ETA)
  • Handwritten - A trust for movable property (excluding a constructive, implied or resulting trust) – such a trust cannot be validly created unless it is declared in a document of testamentary disposition or in a document of non-testamentary disposition and it is reduced to writing, and signed by the author
  • Handwritten - HR contracts, benefits paperwork- there are certain reporting obligations, which may require filing of the hardcopy with an ink signature (and affixing seal in some instances)
  • Handwritten - IP licenses and transfers require an ink signature as the concerned regulator i.e., National Intellectual Property Office, requires filings bearing ink signature
  • Handwritten - Corporate documents- electronic signatures are yet to be accepted by the Registrar General of Companies4
  • Handwritten - Certain Government documents (Section 8 of the ETA, specifically allows for acceptance of electronic records and signatures in government institutions, although several government agencies accept electronic records, it is yet to be implemented in its entirety)
  • Formal notary - A will, testament or codicil or any other testamentary disposition is required to be in writing and duly signed and executed by the testator in the presence of a notary public and two witnesses. The requirement of notarial attestation is dispensed with if the will is executed by the testator in the presence of five witnesses (as under Section 4 of the Prevention of Frauds Ordinance No 7 of 1840 (as amended) (“PFO”) read with Section 23 (a) of the ETA)
  • Formal notary - A power of attorney is required to be reduced to writing and executed in the presence of two witnesses or executed before or attested by a notary public or by a Justice of the Peace, Registrar, Deputy Registrar, or by any Judge or Magistrate, or Ambassador, High Commissioner or other diplomatic representative of the Republic of Sri Lanka (as under Section 2 of the Powers of Attorney Ordinance No 4 of 1902 (as amended) read with Section 23 (d) of the ETA)
  • Formal notary - A trust for immovable property (excluding a constructive, implied or resulting trust) – such a trust cannot be validly created unless it is declared in a document of testamentary disposition or in a document of non-testamentary disposition and it is reduced to writing, signed by the author of the trust or trustee and notarially executed (as under Section 5 (1) of the Trusts Ordinance No 09 of 1917 (as amended) read with Section 23 (e) of the ETA)
  • Formal notary - A contract for sale or conveyance of immovable property or any interest in such property – a contract for sale, purchase, transfer, assignment, mortgage of land of immovable property shall be reduced to writing and executed by the maker of the instrument or such other person authorized in the presence of a notary public and to witnesses and duly attested by the said notary and witnesses, excluding a lease at will or a lease for any period not exceeding one month (as under Section 2 of the PFO read with Section 23 (f) of the ETA).

List of Local Trust Service Providers

Institute Regulatory Body/CA/DSC Providers Supported by emSigner Website
Digital Certification Authority (LankaSign) Digital Certification Authority Yes http://www.lankaclear.com/product_service/14-overview

“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.