The Nordic countries have been at the forefront in terms of digital adoption for some time now. They usually top most digital competitiveness rankings, for example, the 2017 Digital Evolution Index. Being one of the distinguished Nordic nations, Norway has not been left behind when it comes to taking advantage of the convenience that comes with the digital space. Now, you cannot talk about going digital and forget mentioning about the acceptance of electronic signature in the business world.
But, are electronic signature legal in Norway? First, before establishing the legality of e-signatures in Norway, let’s get familiar with a few issues that surround the contract signing process in this renowned Nordic country.
The act of signing a contract in Norway is rooted in the principle of freedom or free will of entering into contracts. It commences when one party makes an offer or promise, and the other party either agrees to or makes its promise or offer. The acceptance of the offer or promise becomes binding when the involved parties consent to all the terms and conditions of the contract and sign it.
There are various ways of concluding a contract when doing business in Norway. Parties can either put their agreement into writing or agree verbally. Parties can as well execute a power of attorney, in cases where they wish to authorize another person/party to sign a contract on their behalf.
Laws that govern contracts in Norway
- Contract Act – Applicable when there are provisions not provided for by agreement being entered by the parties.
- Guardianship Act – This governs the capacity of the involved parties to enter into a contract.
- Special laws – Other requirements for contracts are regulated by special laws such as consumer credit act, competition act, insurance agreement act, good-faith acquisition act, sales of goods act, and the landlord and tenant act.
The e-Signature act of Norway
Since the recognition of electronic signature in Norway in 2001, parties are free to enter and conclude contracts electronically. Under this law, an e signature is given the same legal weight as the written one. E signatures generally refer to methods of signing documents online. These methods include fingerprint reading, iris scanning, or the use of digital signatures via electronic keys and certificates.
Like we mentioned earlier, Norwegian authorities give freedom to its citizens to select among different forms of e signatures for their businesses. Simple Electronic Signatures (SESs) are considered compelling for typical transactions and online businesses while Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) are preferred for expensive online transactions and sensitive data sharing. In other words, QESs are contemplated as more reliable and authentic.
Norway follows a tiered legal model for e sign laws. Apparently, this legal model supports the concept of QES. A QES uses an asymmetric cryptosystem for validation and authentication. Additionally, though Norway is not a member state of the European Union (EU), it follows the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standards to spell out the technical requirements of QES.
Norway and the EU share a common regulatory structure for secure electronic transactions. Thus, Norway and European member states approve each other’s electronic signatures, electronic identification eID, etc. The process eventually removes the international digital hurdles among the European nations, which had previously been a significant impediment to doing business.
Use cases of Standard Electronic Signatures (SES) in Norway:
- Agreements of consumers, including new retail opening paperwork
- HR documents, such as benefits paperwork, employment contracts, and other new employee onboarding agreements.
- Intangible property transfers
- New intellectual property licenses
- Agreements between commercial and corporate entities, including sales agreements, procurement agreements, Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), etc.
- Court procedural communications, including pleadings, writs of summon, etc.
- Lease agreements, sales contracts, deed of purchase, and other real estate contracts
Use cases which are not suitable for e signatures in Norway
Norwegian law doesn’t allow the use of e signatures in some instances. The instances comprise of overt requirements such as wet-ink (handwritten) signatures and formal notarial processes. Such cases are not suitable for e signatures or digital transaction management. These include:
- Agreements of marriage, pre-marital agreements, and marriage settlements
- Articles of incorporation and other corporate paperwork. Unless these are signed electronically with a platform/software provided by the Registry of Business enterprises.
- Agreements of loans or security
- Minutes of meetings from shareholder meetings and board meetings
- Employee termination notices
Can Foxit eSign signing software be used in Norway
Foxit eSign users are now able to eSign documents online in all Nordic countries, including Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. The same case applies to all Foxit eSign users that wish to sign documents electronically across the country borders. Many organizations based in Norway and other European countries have grown their sales and business processes with our software.
Besides providing clients with electronic signature solutions, Foxit eSign also eases the process of creation of documents themselves. You can effortlessly craft contracts, quotes, proposals, and even NDAs with a click of a button – thanks to the many templates available on our platform. Try signing documents free today with Foxit eSign, and you will definitely love it.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this Foxit eSign blog is for general purposes only and is not meant for companies to use as legal advice. Please confer with your attorney for legal consultation for your location and specific use cases.3
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