UK e-business gets a boost as law allows use in court

THE GOVERNMENT claims a new law making electronic signatures legally admissible is an important milestone in building confidence in e-business.

Under Section 7 of the Electronic Communications Act, which has now passed into law, e-signatures and any certificate which supports them can be used as evidence in court, in a similar way to hand-written ones.

It is expected that so-called `trusted third-party’ organisations will be asked to offer some verification procedures for e-signatures, although how this will work in practice is unclear.

The UK is one of the first five countries in the world to pass legislation on e-signatures, and this brings it into line with an EU directive on this subject. US president Bill Clinton approved similar regulations last month.

The Government is keen to stress its e-commerce credentials and claims that the legislation is a major step towards its goal of making the UK the best place to do business online.

However, some legal experts have questioned how relevant the new law will be in practice, given the grey areas that still remain over transactions and contracts conducted via the internet.

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