E-signatures in Poland

January 29th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The current Polish legislation on e-signature includes the Act of 18 September 2001 on Electronic Signature – ESA – (in Polish: ustawa o podpisie elektronicznym), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 15 November 2001, No 130, item 1450, with subsequent amendments. The provisions of Article 3 of the ESA introduced two types of e-signature: “electronic signature”, which means data in electronic form which, together with other data, either attached thereto or logically associated therewith, are capable of identifying the signatory and the so-called “secure electronic signature”, which means electronic signature which is uniquely assigned to the signatory, is made using secure signature-creation device and signature-creation data that the signatory can maintain under his sole control, is related to the data to which it has been attached in such a manner that any subsequent change of the data is recognizable.

According to article 5 of the ESA, the data in electronic form bearing a secure electronic signature verified by a valid qualified certificate shall be legally recognized as equivalent to documents bearing handwritten signatures. A secure electronic signature verified by a valid qualified certificate shall ensure the integrity of the data bearing the signature and unambiguous indication of the qualified certificate by assuring that any subsequent changes of the data and any subsequent changes of the indication of the certificate used to verify the signature are recognizable.

Recently, the Polish Ministry of Economy proposed amendments to the ESA. The draft provides new types of e-signatures that are consistent with the Directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 on a Community framework for electronic signature.

The draft provides 4 types of e-signature: normal, advanced, personal and certified. The normal one will be the same features as present “electronic signature” as defined in article 3 of the ASA and will primarily serve as a declaration of identity.

The advanced e-signature will have to meet the additional requirements for certification of the person using it. It will certify the data integrity and allow you to establish the identity of the signatory to both individuals and legal persons, such as when submitting electronic invoices.

The data in electronic form signed by a qualified (secure) electronic signature will have specific legal effects – the same as a handwritten signature for the data recorded on paper. Such data will be admissible as evidence in legal proceedings. The signature will be used to sign statements of knowledge and will.