The EU Regulation 910/2014, known as eIDAS (the Regulation) is directly applicable to the Member States of the European Union since 1st July 2016 and it aims to establish common standards for electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions across European Union. Cyprus adopted to this regard Law 55(I)/2018 (the Law), which regulates the use of e-documents, e-signatures, e-identifications, e-seals etc, complying with the requirements of the Regulation.
On Friday 08/05/2020 Mr. Kokkinos, the Deputy Minister to the President for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, announced that the Government will soon introduce the electronic signatures, digitalising in essence the interaction of citizens with public authorities, such as issuance of a birth certificate, property transfer and applying to the registrar of companies. Further to the public authorities, it is expected that the measure will transform sectors, such as the financial sector which is expected to be one of the biggest potential beneficiaries of the Regulation.
The Regulation provides three types of e-signatures with different levels of security, namely:
a. The e-signature which is data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and it is used by the signatory to sign a document.
b. The advance e-signature which i) is uniquely linked to the signatory, ii) is capable of identifying the signatory, iii) is created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can use, with high level of confidence, under their sole control and iv) is linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable.
c. The qualified electronic signature which means an advanced electronic signature that is created by a qualified electronic signature creation device, and which is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures.
The e-signature may be obtained after applying to a trust service, such as JCC and the relevant procedure may take up to three working days and the e-signature is valid for a year after its issuance. After the creation of the e-signature, the owner of the e-signature will be able to sign a contract, make an application to a public service offering digital services and make any transaction, which normally requires the physical presence of a person.
An electronic signature shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in electronic form or that it does not meet the requirements for qualified electronic signatures.
The aforementioned developments in the legal framework are welcome as they push Cyprus a step forward to implement the EU digital single market, making transactions digital, simplifying procedures and creating a more flexible legal and business environment, reducing administration costs.
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