DOES THE PRACTICE OF “SCANNED” SIGNATURES HAVE A LEGAL VALUE?
Hoche Avocats – Commercial Department Newsletter – April 2021
Does the practice of “scanned” signatures have a legal value?
With confinement and teleworking, the practice of the “scanned” signature consisting of a “copy/paste” of the photo of a signature on a letter, a contract, an order form, an invoice, etc. is increasingly practiced.
If one understands its pragmatic character one must question the value of this practice in evidential terms.
EVIDENTIARY PRINCIPLES: A PRIMA FACIE CASE IN WRITING
The Civil Code lists 6 modes of evidence admissible by a judge, with
-different probative value writing,
-the decisive oath,
-the beginning of proof by writing
In the absence of provisions or agreements to the contrary, the judge settles conflicts of proof in writing by determining by any means the most likely title (Article 1368 of the Civil Code).
As regards the validity of a contract, the law requires that an original document be drawn up for each party, legible and signed by the parties. If one of these elements is missing, the writing is not valid as proof, but as a beginning of proof in writing (Article 1362 of the Civil Code). It is then an imperfect form of proof subject to the judge’s appreciation according to the external elements that may corroborate its existence and content.
The format of the writing is unimportant: it may be in paper or digital form. An electronic document has the same evidential value as a paper document, provided that the person from whom it originates can be duly identified and that it is drawn up and stored in conditions that guarantee its integrity.
As regards the signature, Article 1367 of the Civil Code provides that “The signature necessary for the perfection of a legal act identifies its author. It manifests his consent to the obligations arising from that act. When it is affixed by a public official, it confers authenticity on the act. “.