What is a valid signature?
A signature is a person’s name written by that person. It confirms, that they have entered into an agreement or made a trade. A signature can be made physically on paper or digitally.
Signatures are necessary to document, that one intends to abide by the agreements contained in a document. All legally binding agreements require a valid signature from all parties involved.
In Danish law, symbols or initials can also be used as signature. The important thing is, to be able to document, that the person signing has understood and agreed to the terms of the agreement.
How do you issue a valid signature?
To issue a valid signature, you have to be politically mature and understand the agreement’s contents. You are considered politically mature, when you are older than 18 years and, legally speaking, capable of handling your personal and financial affairs. Should you suffer from mental disabilities like e.g. severe dementia, you can be declared legally incapable. In that event, you will be assigned a custodian who can sign agreements for you - if they are in your best interest.
For an agreement to be legally binding, all parties involved need to sign it. However, Danish law does not require a physical signature for all contracts or agreements. It is possible to form spoken agreements. Proving an agreement’s validity can be difficult without a signature in the event of a dispute or differences of opinion, though. That is to say, that, without a signature, the agreement might not be considered valid in the eyes of the law.
Hence, signed documents may often be required when entering into a credit agreement or buying a home. Many agreements have to be printed on special paper or signed in the presence of a notary. This is meant to prevent signatures from being forged. Notaries are especially needed when issuing the power of attorney or a testament, since these can have vast legal consequences for an individual’s life, work and affairs.
Digital or electronic signature
A signature can also be digital. In order to use an electronic signature, it has to be unique and associated with the signatory. Moreover, it has to be possible to see what has been signed.
In Danish law, digital or electronic signatures are equally valid as physical ones. This means, that you can use our digital contracts or programs such as NemID to sign legal agreements. It just has to be a method that guarantees, that the signatures are authentic.
What does European legislation have to say regarding digital signatures?
When entering an agreement with a foreign person, you have to ensure that the country, where the agreement is formed, allows for digital signatures. In Europe, digital signatures are equally binding as physical ones. This was decided by the European Commission in 2011. The European regulation concerning digital signatures is called eIDAS.
The purpose of the system is to create a mutual authentication system for the EU’s member states and Switzerland.