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The EU Directive on Electronic Signatures - a World Wide Model or a Fruitless Attempt to Regulate the Future?

27 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2005 Last revised: 26 Dec 2007

Mathias M. Siems

Durham University - Durham Law School; University of Cambridge - Centre for Business Research


The Directive on a Community Framework for Electronic Signatures is an essential and important new legal standard for the regulation of electronic signatures. The following article describes this Directive and assesses whether this new legal framework can be an effective and successful world wide model or whether it is rather fruitless. While doing this, I will consider the implementation of the Directive into UK and German law. This will also reveal some possibilities of how the legal status of electronic signatures can or cannot and should or should not be regulated. Furthermore, I will refer to other acts or draft acts, for example, the UCITA and UETA of the US and the Model Law on Electronic Commerce and Draft Uniform Rules on Electronic Signatures of the UNCITRAL. My result is that the EU Directive is to be approved in general. Only if one said that in an ever-changing world every law was premature or even that in an imperfect world every law was either insufficient or unnecessary, would it be consequent to decline regulation of electronic signatures completely. However, regarding the details, some provisions, for example the possibility of introducing a voluntary accreditation scheme, are open to criticism.

Keywords: electronic signatures, e-signatures, digital signatures, e-commerce, EU Directive on Electronic Signatures, E-Signatures Directive

JEL Classification: L86, K12, K13, K20

Suggested Citation

Siems, Mathias M., The EU Directive on Electronic Signatures - a World Wide Model or a Fruitless Attempt to Regulate the Future?. International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, Vol. 16, pp. 7-22, 2002 (updated in 2007). Available at SSRN:

Mathias Siems (Contact Author)

Durham University - Durham Law School ( email )

Stockton Road
Durham, County Durham DH1 3LE
United Kingdom


University of Cambridge - Centre for Business Research ( email )

Top Floor, Judge Business School Building
Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom


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