Electronic Signatures in Real Estate Documents

Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, England and Wales, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Scotland, Spain

Denmark and Ireland contribution added on 18 May 2020.

For many within the Real Estate industry, the use of electronic signatures will be unfamiliar ground – a practice often discussed but never used. Yet, where they are capable of being used, electronic signatures can be very useful – perhaps never more so than now when the impact of Covid-19 means signatories are confined to working from home or are unable to have documents couriered to or collected from them.    

Unfortunately, despite the numerous benefits and the possible necessity to use electronic signatures, there are in most countries some restrictions and limitations that, for now at least, prevent the use of electronic signatures being used for all Real Estate documents. As such, set out below is a summary of the current position as to the validity and use of electronic signatures for Real Estate documents across various European jurisdictions. 

For further information on electronic signing or execution within a relevant jurisdiction, or to discuss ways in which any limitations or restrictions might be overcome, please contact the relevant CMS contact(s) listed below.

Please note the information held in this publication is for general purposes and guidance only and does not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.

1. Which documents can use an electronic signature and take legal effect?

Austria - Nikolaus Weselik and Miriam Baierl

A Qualified Electronic Signature (see later column) can be used on a document when either a written form or no other specific form is required by law or contract. This includes:

  • Sale contracts;
  • Leases and agreements for lease and variations;
  • Easements;
  • Handover protocols (akin to schedules of condition);
  • Agreements for a limited period (e.g. documents to temporarily increase the main rent under a lease);
  • Tenant termination agreements;
  • Developer contracts (Bauträgervertrag) between a developer and the purchaser; 
  • Agreement on the establishment of condominium ownership (Wohnungseigentum) regulating co-owners and the grant to each other of the right to exclusively use part of a property; and
  • Brokerage contracts relating to the payment of commission to a broker.

Bulgaria - Jenia Dimitrova and Zornitsa Stoykova

Generally, any documents that can be executed in simple written form and which are not subject to mandatory or optional registration with the Bulgarian Land Registry can be signed using an e-signature. This includes:

  • Non-disclosure agreements;
  • Preliminary (option) agreements; 
  • Leases (if not to be registered in the Real Estate Register); and
  • Exclusivity agreements.

Czech Republic - Libor Prokes and Jaroslav Lepka

Generally, any document may be electronically signed by any of the methods set out in column 4 and take legal effect unless they must be notarial deeds or submitted for registration to the Czech Real Estate Register. This includes:

  • Leases (not registerable in the Czech Real Estate Register);
  • Licences for alterations;
  • Non-disclosure agreements;
  • Exclusivity agreements;
  • Side letters; and
  • Pre-emption rights agreements (not registered in the Czech Real Estate Register).

Denmark - Ann Frølund Winther and Anne Lysemose

Generally, any commercial real estate document may be signed using an electronic signature and take legal effect, unless the parties of the document have agreed not to use electronic signatures. This includes;

  • Sale and purchase agreements
  • Lease agreements
  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Exclusivity agreements
  • Letters of intent
  • Sider letters

England & Wales - Marie Scott, Chris D’Emanuele and Alex Lane 

Generally, any document which does not need to be registered with the Land Registry or HMRC. This may include:

  • Sale/Purchase agreements;
  • Agreements for lease;
  • Options/pre-emption agreements;
  • Leases for a term of up to 7 years (where easements are not to be registered and subject to other limited exceptions);
  • ASTs/Tenancies at will;
  • Licences (to occupy, for alterations, underletting and assignment);
  • Rent deposit deeds;
  • Guarantees;
  • Side letters;
  • Wayleave agreements;
  • Rent-review memos;
  • Certificates of title; and
  • NDAs/Exclusivity agreements.

France - Aline Divo, Arnaud Valverde and Claire Le Gloanec

Generally, an electronic signature can be used for all commercial Real Estate documents (with a few exceptions). This includes:

  • Sale contracts;
  • Transfer deeds (except for certain preliminary deeds in the residential sector);
  • Leases; and
  • Deeds of assignment of lease.

Real Estate documents signed electronically can be registered at the French Land Registry (“service de la publicité foncière”).

Germany - Heinrich Schirmer, Dr. Franz Maurer

Electronic signatures may be used for any documents that do not require written form or a stricter form by law or by contract. This includes:

  • Leases for a term of less than one year;
  • Variations to leases;
  • Licences for alterations, underlettings and assignments;
  • Letters of intent;
  • Handover protocols;
  • Side letters;
  • Non-disclosure agreements; and
  • Exclusivity agreements.

Leases for a term of more than one year need to be in a written form and to satisfy the written form requirement the only valid electronic signature is a “Qualified Electronic Signature” (see legal requirements section). However, see the issue with leases for a term of more than one year in the “other factors” section.

Hungary - Gabor Czike and Dr. Zsófia Zsurzsa

Generally, any document which does not need to be registered at the Hungarian Land Registry can be signed using an electronic signature. This includes:

  • Non-disclosure agreements;
  • Exclusivity agreements;
  • Sale contracts; and
  • Leases and related letting documents; guarantees.

Italy - Francesco Sabatino and Alessandro Sassone 

In general, any documents may be signed with an electronic signature.

However, the following contracts may only be signed electronically in front of a Public Notary with a Qualified Electronic Signature or Digital Signature (see later column):

  • Sale contracts;
  • Contracts that constitute, modify or transfer or waive the right of usufruct on real properties, the surface rights and the rights of the emphyteutic grantor or tenant;
  • Residential leases for a term of more than 9 years;
  • Commercial leases;
  • Partnership agreements or associations in which a real property or properties’ rights are for a duration more than 9 years or for an indefinite period of time; and
  • Contracts of partition of real properties and of other real properties’ rights.

Ireland - Sally Anne Stone and Michael Cusack 

As a general rule electronic signatures can be used for all real estate documents that (i) do not demise a legal interest in property or (ii) do not require registration in the Property Registration Authority (“the PRA”). This includes:

  • Contracts for Sale;
  • Non-disclosure Agreements;
  • Pre-emption Agreements;
  • Licences for Works;
  • Licences to Occupy;
  • Licences to Assign/Sub-let;
  • Rent Deposit Agreements;
  • Side letters;
  • Revenue Filings; and
  • Exclusivity Agreements.

Poland - Barbara Krupinska - Fuganti and Zofia Nejthardt

Generally, all documents for which no other specific form is required by law can use an electronic signature. This includes:

  • Non-disclosure agreements;
  • Side letters;
  • Leases or tenancy agreements for less than one year; and
  • Leases or tenancy agreements for more than one year which are concluded in writing or electronic form. 

Romania - Roxana Fratila and Alexandru Dumitrescu

Generally, documents that do not require notarization and/or registration with the Romanian Land Registry can be signed electronically. This includes:

  • Non-disclosure agreements;
  • Sale contracts (not to be noted at the Romanian Land Registry);
  • Leases (not to be noted at the Romanian Land Registry);
  • Free lease agreements (leases with no consideration payable);
  • Deeds of variation;
  • Lease assignments;
  • Guarantees;
  • Construction/design agreements (not with a public body); and
  • Termination and extension notices for lease agreements and other agreements that do not require notarized notices.

Scotland - Paul Carter and Elaine Piggot

All documents governed by Scottish Law (with limited exceptions for wills and testamentary writings) can now take completely electronic form (including an electronic signature) except those which are to be registered in the Land Register of Scotland, Register of Sasines or Books of Council and Session.  

Spain - Jorge Peño Iglesias

As a general rule a document between two private parties (which are fully valid and enforceable “inter-parties”) can be signed using electronic signatures, provided that such a document does not need to be recorded with the Spanish Land Registry (“Registro de la Propiedad”) and/or formalised before a Notary (see next column). This includes:          

  • Sale and purchase contracts;
  • Leases and agreements for lease;
  • Options and pre-emption agreements;
  • Deposits;
  • Guarantees;
  • Easements;
  • Non-disclosure agreements;
  • Exclusivity agreements; and
  • Any other private document.

2. Which documents cannot use electronic signatures and take legal effect and why?

Austria - Nikolaus Weselik and Miriam Baierl

Electronic signatures cannot be used where the relevant document requires notarial certification for Austrian Land Registry purposes (which is required to effect ownership of the relevant property interest). This includes: 

  • Transfers;
  • Leases;
  • Mortgages/charges;
  • Pledge contracts conveying rights to a creditor over the property which can be registered as a lien over a property at the Land Registry;
  • Easements; and
  • Rank orders ensuring priority in respect of an application to the land register.

Bulgaria - Jenia Dimitrova and Zornitsa Stoykova

The following documents cannot be executed with electronic signatures because they require “Qualified Written Form” (see below):

  • Sale contracts;
  • Mortgages;
  • Easements;
  • Establishment of right of use;
  • Donations of land; and
  • Mutual transfers of land.

In addition, the following documents cannot be signed electronically:

  • Other agreements that specifically require Qualified Written Form;
  • A document where holding the original of the document has legal significance (e.g. promissory notes); or
  • A document subject to mandatory or optional registration with the Bulgarian Land Registry such as notarised deeds and foreclosures.

Qualified Written Form” is a form, legally required in respect of the validity of a party’s statement or in respect of its ability to be used as proof of such statement. The additional qualifying requirements to the written form may include notarization of signature, notary deed, handwritten statement, participation of witnesses or officials when the statement is made, and others.

Czech Republic - Libor Prokes and Jaroslav Lepka

Any documents requiring use of a notary public, attorney or an administrative authority (the “Verified Signature”) for registration on the Czech Real Estate Register cannot use an electronic signature. These include:

  • Transfers and agreements for transfer;
  • Easements;
  • Mortgages;
  • Negative pledge restricting dealings with the property (akin to a restriction on title);
  • Pre-emption right agreements;
  • Agreements on establishment of right to build on third party land (a relatively new land right akin to a licence to build); and
  • Leases (if registered in the Real Estate Register).

Denmark - Ann Frølund Winther and Anne Lysemose

Powers of attorney to be registered with the Danish Land Registry may not be signed using an electronic signature, as the Danish Land Registry requires wet ink signatures, unless the power of attorney is signed by using NemID. NemID is a Danish common secure login on the Internet.

Except powers of attorney, all other registrations with the Danish Land Registry may be signed using an electronic signature.

England & Wales - Marie ScottChris D’Emanuele and Alex Lane 

The Land Registry requires wet ink signatures for documents sent to it for registering or noting. Therefore, the following documents cannot be executed electronically:

  • Leases for a term of more than 7 years (or 3 years where easements are to be registered);
  • Mortgages/charges;
  • Discharge of mortgages/charges;
  • Transfers; and
  • Grant of easements.

The Land Registry has its own processes for the electronic discharge of mortgages/charges signed in wet ink.

HMRC requires wet ink signatures where stamp duty is payable, e.g. a stock transfer form.

France - Aline DivoArnaud Valverde and Claire Le Gloanec

The following Real Estate documents cannot be signed using an electronic signature:

  • Preliminary deeds of sale without condition precedent for obtaining a loan; and
  • Securities.

It should be noted, the restrictions in not using an electronic signature are mostly limited to the residential sector or to documents executed by consumers. This is because French law requires the reproduction of certain specific mandatory handwritten mentions in those Real Estate documents.

Germany - Heinrich SchirmerDr. Franz Maurer

Where a stricter form than a written form is required by law or contract, a simple electronic signature is not valid.

Therefore, the following documents cannot use electronic signatures:

  • Sale contracts;
  • Transfer agreements regarding rights in rem, e.g. co-ownership units or ground leases;
  • Easements and charges to be registered in the German land register; and
  • Guarantees or surety.

Hungary - Gabor Czike and Dr. Zsófia Zsurzsa

Any document which requires registering or noting with the Hungarian Land Registry cannot be signed using an electronic signature. This includes:

  • Transfers;
  • Option agreements;
  • Mortgage agreements/charges;
  • Documents discharging a mortgage/charge; and
  • Easements.

Italy - Francesco Sabatino and Alessandro Sassone 

None, provided that the requirements of Italian Law no. 82/2005 (i.e. “Code of Digital Administration”) are complied with which provides that any document signed electronically has legal effect provided it has affixed to it any of the following:

  • An Electronic Signature;
  • An Advanced Electronic Signature;
  • A Qualified Electronic Signature; or
  • A Digital Signature.

Ireland - Sally Anne Stone and Michael Cusack 

Any document through which a legal interest in property is being be created, acquired, disposed of, released or registered requires execution under hand (by an individual) or under seal (if a corporate). This position is set down in statute.

These include:

  • Deeds of Transfer, Conveyance and Assignment;
  • Lease and Sub-leases;
  • Deeds of Easements;
  • Debentures, Mortgages and Charges;
  • Wills and Declarations/Affidavits;
  • Deeds of Release.

Procedurally the PRA also requires that all applications lodged for registration must have wet-ink signatures.

Additionally, wet ink originals are required for certain registrations in the Companies Registration Office.

Poland - Barbara Krupinska - Fuganti and Zofia Nejthardt

The following documents must be a notarial deed and therefore cannot be signed electronically:

  • Sale contracts obliging the transfer of ownership; and
  • Substantive legal documents granting the right for entry in the land and mortgage register.

In addition, the following documents cannot be signed electronically:

  • Easements;
  • Pledges; 
  • Mortgages; and
  • Any documents creating an usufruct, pledge or cooperative ownership right to premises

Romania - Roxana Fratila and Alexandru Dumitrescu

Any Real Estate document that requires notarization and/or registration with the Romanian Land Registry cannot be signed electronically. This includes:

  • Sale contracts (to be noted at the Romanian Land Registry);
  • Lease agreements (to be noted at the Romanian Land Registry);
  • Easements;
  • Option agreements;
  • Agreements granting real estate rights (e.g. superficies, use, usufruct);
  • Farm/agricultural tenancies;
  • Construction/design agreements (where a public body is a party to the agreement); and
  • Land merger/de-merger agreements.

Scotland - Paul Carter and Elaine Piggot

Any document which requires to be registered in the Land Register of Scotland, Register of Sasines or Books of Council and Session (for example a disposition or lease) cannot be in electronic format at present.

In addition, the registrar of companies in Scotland requires wet ink signatures where a document has stamp duty payable on it.

Spain - Jorge Peño Iglesias

Documents to be notarised require a wet ink signature and cannot be executed with an electronic signature.

The vast majority of documents will need to be notarised to be enforceable against third parties. These include:

  • Sale and purchase deeds;
  • Notarised leases;
  • Options and pre-emption rights deeds;
  • Deeds of easements; and 
  • Powers of attorney to execute transactions requiring a deed (i.e. creation of a mortgage or a sale and purchase deed to be recorded in the Land Registry).

Some documents must be notarised for registration with the Spanish Land Registry in order to take full legal effect. These include:

  • Mortgages/charges;
  • Surface right deeds ("derecho de superficie"); and
  • Rights of use of real estate for a rotatory term ("derecho de aprovechamiento por turno de bienes inmuebles").

3. What are the legal requirements for electronic signatures on documents?

Austria - Nikolaus Weselik and Miriam Baierl

In general, Qualified Electronic Signatures are treated as being equal to handwritten signatures. The legal and technical requirements for a Qualified Electronic Signatures result from eIDAS and the Austrian Law adopted for its local application (Signatur- und Vertrauensdienstegesetz – SVG).

Only qualified trust service providers can issue the necessary certificates to create a Qualified Electronic Signature (e.g. A-Trust Gesellschaft für Sicherheitssysteme im elektronischen Datenverkehr GmbH), which are subject to supervision by the Telekom-Control Commission.

Generally, a contract can contain a provision which excludes the possibility for the consumer to make written declarations electronically with a qualified signature. This is only effective where:

  • it has been negotiated in detail (i.e. not in the general terms and conditions); or
  • another, comparably simple method of electronic authentication has been agreed with the consumer (e.g. via the entrepreneur's website).

Bulgaria - Jenia Dimitrova and Zornitsa Stoykova

There are no legal requirements for an electronic signature of a document.

Czech Republic - Libor Prokes and Jaroslav Lepka

The requirements stipulated by:

  • eIDAS;
  • Act No. 297/2016 Coll., on services building trust for electronic transactions (the “SET”); and
  • Section 561 of Act No. 89/2012 Coll., the Civil Code, as amended (the “CC”).

Under the CC, SET and eIDAS, four types of electronic signatures exist all of which are valid means of electronic signing:

  1. Electronic Signature: a digital signature used to simply indicate the authorship of an electronic document;
  2. Advanced Electronic Signature: a digital signature which must unequivocally identify the holder, depend only on the will of the holder and be linked to the data to which it relates in such a manner that any subsequent change of the data is detectable;
  3. Qualified Electronic Signature: a digital signature or other type of Advanced Electronic Signature that satisfies additional security requirements and is created by a secure signature creation device; and
  4. Digital Signature: a particular type of Qualified Electronic Signature allowing the holder using the private key and a third party using the public key, respectively, to verify the origin and authenticity of one or more digital documents.

Denmark - Ann Frølund Winther and Anne Lysemose

There are no legal requirements for an electronic signature of a document.

England & Wales - Marie ScottChris D’Emanuele and Alex Lane 

Companies House operate an online filing service which allows most forms, notices and statements to be both signed and delivered to Companies House electronically. They do however have specific certifying requirements for documents being filed which have been signed electronically.

Otherwise, there are no additional legal requirements for an electronic signature of a Real Estate document beyond the requirements of the Land Registry and HMRC for wet ink signatures.

France - Aline DivoArnaud Valverde and Claire Le Gloanec

The legal requirements for an electronic signature to be valid are found in Articles 1366 and 1367 of the French Civil Code. An electronic signature must:

  • use a reliable identification process; and
  • express the signing party’s consent to the obligations arising from the relevant document.

Also, obtaining the "certification" for a signature creation system needs to be obtained from the French National Cybersecurity Agency (“Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d'information”). Obtaining this “certification” is time consuming and requires the applicant to comply with procedures that can be discouraging.

Germany - Heinrich SchirmerDr. Franz Maurer

The requirements for a Qualified Electronic Signature result from Regulation  (EU No 910/2014 (“eIDAS”) and the German law adopted for its local application (Vertrauensdienstegesetz).

One important requirement is the specific certificate which can only be issued by qualified trust service providers regulated by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur).

Regarding other electronic signatures, there are no specific legal requirements to the extent the electronic signature provides sufficient proof for the will of the signatory.

Hungary - Gabor Czike and Dr. Zsófia Zsurzsa

There are no additional legal requirements for an electronic signature of a document.

Italy - Francesco Sabatino and Alessandro Sassone 

The Code of Digital Administration provides for the following distinct electronic signatures:

  1. Electronic Signature: (i.e. “firma elettronica”): a digital signature used to simply indicate the authorship of an electronic document;
  2. Advanced Electronic Signature: (i.e. “firma elettronica avanzata”): a digital signature which must unequivocally identify the holder, depend only on the will of the holder and be linked to the data to which it relates in such a manner that any subsequent change of the data is detectable;
  3. Qualified Electronic Signature: (i.e. “firma elettronica qualificata”): a digital signature or other type of Advanced Electronic Signature that satisfies additional security requirements and is created by a secure signature creation device; and
  4. Digital Signature: (i.e. “firma digitale”): a particular type of Qualified Electronic Signature allowing the holder using the private key and a third party using the public key, respectively, to verify the origin and authenticity of one or more digital documents.

Ireland - Sally Anne Stone and Michael Cusack 

When using an electronic signature, under Irish law, the consent of the counterparty to the use of the electronic signature is required. This consent can be implied or inferred as there is no requirement for consent to be explicit. Best practice however is to include an assent to electronic execution within the agreement itself.

The Law Society of Ireland has issued a practice direction detailing the steps to be followed to ensure e-signatures are applied correctly to a range of different agreements and documents.

Poland - Barbara Krupinska - Fuganti and Zofia Nejthardt

Every citizen can use the "ePUAP", platform which is a free method of electronically confirming the identity of Polish citizens in electronic administration systems.

Non-Polish individuals who do not have a PESEL number (Polish personal identification number) required to use the ePUAP have to use a paid "qualified electronic signature".

There are no other requirements for electronic signatures provided that such a document can be executed electronically.

Romania - Roxana Fratila and Alexandru Dumitrescu

There are no additional legal requirements for an electronic signature of a document (beyond the requirements of the Romanian Land Registry for a wet ink signature).

Scotland - Paul Carter and Elaine Piggot

For any document that must, by law, be created in writing (namely documents for the constitution of rights in relation to land, gratuitous unilateral obligations and some trusts) an ‘Advanced Electronic Signature (‘AES’) is required which must be:

  • uniquely linked to the signatory;
  • capable of identifying the signatory;
  • created under the sole control of the signatory; and
  • linked to the data to which it relates in such a manner that any subsequent change of the data is detectable. 

For a document to be self-proving (a requirement for most Real Estate documents) the electronic signature must also be certified by a qualified certificate. This comes from a third-party provider registered and certified in accordance with eIDAS. For other types of electronic documents, any form of electronic signature may be used however, an AEA and a certified AES will carry greater evidential weight in the event of any dispute.

Spain - Jorge Peño Iglesias

There are no additional legal requirements for an electronic signature of a Real Estate document.

4. Are there any proposals to change the law relating to electronic signatures? 

Austria - Nikolaus Weselik and Miriam Baierl

No.

Bulgaria - Jenia Dimitrova and Zornitsa Stoykova

No.

Czech Republic - Libor Prokes and Jaroslav Lepka

On 1 February 2022, an amendment of Act No. 21/2006 Coll., will come into effect allowing for electronically signed documents to potentially carry the same weight as a Verified Signature.

Denmark - Ann Frølund Winther and Anne Lysemose

No.

England & Wales - Marie ScottChris D’Emanuele and Alex Lane 

There are currently no plans to change the Land Registry or HMRC requirements for wet ink signatures.

However, a recent report confirmed that it was the Law Commission’s view that a witnessed e-signature is a valid way of executing deeds provided the attesting witness is physically present with the signatory. The Government has subsequently endorsed their conclusions.

France - Aline DivoArnaud Valverde and Claire Le Gloanec

No, however it is worth noting that the Elan law (No. 2018-1021) dated 23 November 2018 was enacted with a view to increasing the dematerialisation of documents in the residential sector. For example, some of the technical appendices required as part of the execution of a residential lease are now valid in an electronic format.

Germany - Heinrich SchirmerDr. Franz Maurer

No.

Hungary - Gabor Czike and Dr. Zsófia Zsurzsa

No.

Italy - Francesco Sabatino and Alessandro Sassone 

No.

Ireland - Sally Anne Stone and Michael Cusack 

No, there are no proposals to revise the execution requirements for documents demising a legal interest in real property. Similarly the PRA has not indicated an intention to review its requirement for wet ink signatures. However, the Law Society of Ireland is examining the matter and may lobby for change.

Poland - Barbara Krupinska - Fuganti and Zofia Nejthardt

No.

Romania - Roxana Fratila and Alexandru Dumitrescu

No.

Scotland - Paul Carter and Elaine Piggot

Not at present. It is anticipated that it will eventually become possible to register electronically signed documents in the Land Register of Scotland, Register of Sasines or Books of Council and Session but there are no known plans currently.

Spain - Jorge Peño Iglesias

No.

5. Are there any other factors which prevent documents being entered into in electronic format?

Austria - Nikolaus Weselik and Miriam Baierl

The following issues could prevent a document being entered in electronic format:

  • in the case of unlisted companies, the constitutional documents could provide under certain circumstances that no electronic signature may be used for declarations and communications from shareholders to the company;
  • the contracting parties can agree upon requirements other than a written form requirement, e.g. a requirement for a notarial certification; and
  • based on the eIDAS regulation, Austrian electronic signatures are recognized in other EU countries. Regarding third countries physical signing may be better, since there is no guarantee for mutual recognition.

Bulgaria - Jenia Dimitrova and Zornitsa Stoykova

As mentioned, electronic signatures are not used for documents mainly due to the requirement for most of them to be in a Qualified Written Form, which makes the use of e-signatures impossible.

Czech Republic - Libor Prokes and Jaroslav Lepka

The following issues could prevent a document being entered into in electronic format:

  • if the executing company has a provision in its constitutional documents which restricts or prevents it from signing electronically. While not common in constitutional documents, this may exist and should be checked; or
  • if the document has to be treated as executed in a foreign jurisdiction. It may be preferable to have physical signing in the event that the place or location of signature has particular legal consequences.

Denmark - Ann Frølund Winther and Anne Lysemose

Possibly, if:

  • the parties of the agreement have agreed to sign the documents using wet ink.
  • the executing company’s corporate documents hold provisions which restricts or prevents it from signing electronically. While not common in corporate documents, this may exist and should be checked.
  • the document must be treated as executed in a jurisdiction outside of Denmark. If the place of signature or jurisdiction has particular legal consequences, it may be better to have a physical signing.

England & Wales - Marie ScottChris D’Emanuele and Alex Lane 

Possibly, if:

  • the executing company’s constitutional documents restrict or prevent it from signing electronically. While not common, this may exist and should be checked;
  • the executing company executes documents by affixing a common seal. England and Wales do not currently have a framework in place to allow for electronic sealing of documents; or
  • the document must be treated as executed in a jurisdiction outside of England and Wales. If the place of signature or jurisdiction has particular legal consequences, it may be better to have a physical signing.

France - Aline DivoArnaud Valverde and Claire Le Gloanec

Possibly, if the executing company has a provision in its corporate documents which restricts or prevents it from signing electronically. While not common in corporate documents this may exist and should be checked.

Germany - Heinrich SchirmerDr. Franz Maurer

The following issues could prevent a document being entered into in electronic format:

  • where the contracting parties themselves have agreed on a stricter form than written form (e.g. notarial recording);
  • if the document has to be treated as executed in a foreign jurisdiction. It may be preferred to have physical signing in the event that the place or location of the signature has particular legal consequences;
  • the originals of leases with a term of more than one year must be reviewed upon any transfer of the lease. There is not yet a developed practice in Germany to deal with this as the reviewer would need to have access to the relevant service provider who facilitated the original Qualified Electronic Signature.

Hungary - Gabor Czike and Dr. Zsófia Zsurzsa

Possibly, the following issues could prevent a document being entered into in electronic format:

  • documents from outside the EU are recognized only on the basis of international treaties with Hungary in most cases with physical legalisation by the foreign authorities governing the requirements for them to be recognised; or
  • if the document has to be treated as executed in a specific jurisdiction outside of Hungary. If the place of signature or the location of the document has particular legal consequences, it may be better to have a physical signing.

Italy - Francesco Sabatino and Alessandro Sassone 

The following issues could prevent a document being entered into in electronic format:

  • if the executing company has a provision in its corporate documents which restricts or prevents it from signing electronically. While not common in corporate documents this may exist and should be checked; or
  • if the document has to be treated as executed in a foreign jurisdiction. It may be preferred to have physical signing in the event that the place or location of signature has particular legal consequences.

Ireland - Sally Anne Stone and Michael Cusack 

No, in the real estate context the primary barriers for Irish documents are the legislative requirements and the PRA requirements. If the documents are being executed in another jurisdiction then the execution/witnessing requirements within that jurisdiction may also need to be considered. As a rule Irish real estate practitioners tend to favour wet ink signatures but recent developments have seen significant numbers within the profession, including the Law Society Conveyancing Committee, begin to explore the use electronic signatures in the context of real estate contracts.  

Poland - Barbara Krupinska - Fuganti and Zofia Nejthardt

Possibly, if the document has to be treated as executed in a foreign jurisdiction. If the place of signature or the location of the document has particular legal consequences, it may be better to have a physical signing.

Romania - Roxana Fratila and Alexandru Dumitrescu

Possibly, if the executing company has a provision in its corporate documents which restricts or prevents it from signing electronically. While not common in corporate documents this may exist and should be checked.

Scotland - Paul Carter and Elaine Piggot

Possibly, if the executing company has a provision in its constitutional documents which restricts or prevents it from signing electronically. While not common in constitutional documents this may exist and should be checked.

Spain - Jorge Peño Iglesias

Possibly, if the document has to be treated as executed in a foreign jurisdiction. If the place of signature or the location of the document has particular legal consequences, it may be better to have a physical signing.