Organisations throughout the UK invest millions of pounds each year in automating
their operations and business processes. As a result, electronic documentation permeates
every aspect of the business workflow in industries throughout the UK ranging from
engineering and healthcare to government and life sciences. Despite this, hard copy
paper is still printed when a signature authorisation is required, thereby creating
the need for physical routing of paper for the purpose of obtaining signatures.
This reintroduction of paper into the workflow increases organisational costs, requires
additional time, and prohibits an organisation from realising the true benefits
of a fully electronic workflow.
Digital signatures enable slow and expensive paper-based approval processes to be
replaced by fast, low-cost, and fully digital ones. Digital signature solutions
produce legally enforceable electronic records, closing the gap to going fully paperless
by completely eliminating the need to print documents for signing.
By enabling a fully automated workflow, digital signatures reduce the expenses and time allocations that paper-based approval processes require.
A single paper-based signature is estimated to cost an organisation upwards of £4 (including printing, scanning,
archiving, routing and replacing lost documents). An average authorised signer signs
two documents per workday; at 20 workdays per month, the monthly paper signing cost
can surpass £160 per signer.
Digital signatures are also essential for UK organizations within regulated industries with formal approval processes, as well as companies that need to route authorised documents between multiple offices or customers and partners.
Do Due to the capability of digital signatures to integrate seamlessly with leading workflow and Content Management Systems, automated formal approval processes are enabled from within an organisation's existing workflow system.
Specifically designed to protect document integrity, digital signatures also assist
in compliance with numerous regulations including: ESIGN, EU directives and
VAT law, HIPAA (and JCAHO), the FDA's 21 CFR Part 11, USDA, and the Sarbanes-Oxley
In the UK, the Electronic Communication Act 2000 and
the Electronic Signatures Act 2002 constitute the legal framework
for electronic signatures. These regulations deal with the legal recognition of
electronic signatures in the United Kingdom, and the signatures’ verification processes,
generation and communication.
The Electronic Signatures Act 2002 introduced the concept of the ‘Advanced Electronic
Signature’ (i.e. digital signature) which has four major coponents:
- It is capable of identifying the signer
- It is uniquely related to the signer
- It is under the sole control of the signer
- It is attached to the data such that subsequent changes invalidate the signature
Further, as established in the Electronic Communication Act 2000, digital signatures
can be admissible in a court of law in the UK provided that:
- The signature is certified
- The signature is incorporated into an electronic communication
With this, an electronic signature originated in another EU Member State is valid
in the UK so long as it meets the requirements established by UK legislation.
more about digital signatures.