E signatures have been legally acknowledged in Portugal since 2009, thanks to the enactment of Decree-Law No. 290-D/99 of 2nd of August and the Electronic Signature Ordinance.
Later in 2016, the e-signature laws were standardized across all European member states with the passing of Electronic Identification and Authentication and Trust Services (eIDAS regulation).
Understanding Portugal’s legal model
Like many European nations, Portugal operates under a civil legal system. This legal system is based on a written constitution, which supports specific rights and duties. Approximately 60 percent of the world’s law systems are civil legal systems.
An overview of civil legal systems:
- Originates from Roman law
- Has a codified set of principles
- An orderly legal system that favors cooperation and order
- A legal system that is adaptable and avoids unnecessary details
- Legislative action is usually the only binding legal action.
- Judiciary can adjust certain rules as deemed fit. In other words, laws are frequently updated to mirror the current legal environment.
The e-sign law in Portugal
According to the Portuguese law, contracts are compelling if both parties agree. This means written, verbal, or electronically produced contracts are considered valid in Portugal. According to Portuguese laws, a contract cannot be denied merely because it has been executed electronically.
To prove that an agreement or contract is valid, though, one or both parties may need to present additional evidence in a court of law. All said and done, e signatures can be used to execute electronic records and are acceptable in court according to Article 3. n. 4 of the Electronic Signature Decree-Law and Article 219 of Portuguese Civil Code.
The eIDAS regulation
As mentioned earlier in this article, since the passage of eIDAS regulations in July 2016, all European Union member countries comply with each other’s electronic signature regulations. It is worth noting that the eIDAS regulation was passed to annul and replace the electronic signature Directive (1999/93/EC). This was an earlier EU directive that governed the use of e signatures in electronic contracts.
The eIDAS regulations are generally neutral in regards to technology and acknowledge three types of e-signatures:
- Standard Electronic Signature (SES) – Seen as the most basic type of electronic signature. Here, the signing party can draw or type their name, but there is no e-form to validate the signature.
- Advanced Electronic Signature (AES) – An advanced e-signature has additional identifying marks that are limited and unique to the signatory. Usually, this type of signature is drawn using a stylus or pen, but doesn’t have an accompanying qualified certificate.
- Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) – A qualified e-signature is viewed as the strongest type of e signature. The signatory will draw their name on a signature creation device, and unlike in the SES and AES case, the contract arrives with an e-form to validate the document.
When are electronic signatures appropriate in Portugal?
Portugal has a tiered legal model, meaning it recognizes a Qualified Electronic Signature as a distinct form of signature. However, a Standard Electronic Signature is also admissible in the Portuguese court. An SES is ideal in many business settings, like:
- Commercial agreements between organizations – This includes purchase orders, non-disclosure agreements, invoices, order acknowledgments, other procurement documents, distribution agreements, sales agreements, and service agreements.
- Human resources paperwork – This includes onboarding documents for a new employee and other HR paperwork.
- There are consumer agreements, including order confirmations, new retail account opening paperwork, sales terms, purchase orders, shipping documentation, invoices, and user manuals, but excluding consumer loan agreements.
- Insurance policies – This includes auto insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, and any supplemental plans. A qualified electronic signature is required in this situation.
- Licenses of intellectual property (IP), including copyright, patent, and trademark
- Software license agreements
- Intangible property transfers (e.g., copyright and patent assignments)
- Submissions for public tenders
- Wills – A qualified electronic signature is required when signing a codicil or will.
Are there any exceptions?
E signatures are not ideal in certain situations, and a wet ink signature can be required in their place. This usually applies to situations where notarization is needed, such as:
- Contracts of surety
- Contracts to transfer or purchase real property
- Stand-alone acknowledgments of debt
- Stand-alone promises to fulfill an obligation.
- Consumer loan agreements exceeding € 25.000,00
- Certain contracts under the law of successions (e.g., contracts of inheritance, waiving inheritance, and inheritance sales)
- Certain contracts under the family law, such as pre-nuptial agreements
- Mortgage documents
- Company’s articles of incorporation
- Assignment of shares of a limited liability company
- Lease agreement and termination of lease agreements
- Termination of employment agreements
Can I use eSign Genie software in Portugal?
Yes, our electronic signature solution complies with e-sign laws in Portugal. This means you can use our platform to conduct nearly all kinds of business transactions while in Portugal or other European states.
Most organizations have endless contracts that they need to be executed throughout their workday. eSign Genie streamlines this process by allowing the relevant departments to collect these signatures within no time.
As with most legal matters, we are also aware that e-signature law sometimes can be difficult to understand.
As your signing solution, we make sure that the e-records you send are secure and tamper-proof. The electronic signatures created by your signatories are traceable and authentic.
You do not need to lose sleep about staying up to date on the ever-changing e-sign regulations.
Focus on creating documents and driving your business forward. Leave the rest to us. We will ensure that your signing process is secure and legal.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this eSign Genie 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.