Electronic signatures in South Africa

There’s an ongoing discussion in the commercial world, especially in property law, around the types of documentation that can be signed electronically.

The ins and outs of subject to bond approval clauses

The Electronic Communications and Transaction Act 2002 (ECTA) is the Act that allows for electronic signatures to take place within a commercial or non-commercial setting, and it also regulates e-government services. 

The ECTA regulates and prescribes that certain documents can be signed electronically. Such electronic signatures constitute representation as if hand signed on paper. The Act also states that documents containing electronic signatures be “original” documents under certain conditions. 

When entering into any agreement, an acceptable form of an electronic signature can be created by:

  • Using a stylus device or your finger to draw your signature. 
  • Uploading an image of your signature and overlaying it on the document 
  • Using your cursor to draw your signature


These examples can be viewed as a standard electronic signature and will be accepted unless the document or legislation specifically requests an Advanced Electronic Signature (AES). The ECTA defines an AES as an electronic signature that has been accredited by the Authority as provided for by the Department of Communication. 

If any amendments take place to an agreement, initialling and signatures can be done electronically on the proviso that the correct electronic signatures were used initially.

The types of documents that cannot be signed electronically are:

  • An agreement of sale for immovable property. 
  • Long-term leases of land exceeding 20 years.
  • A signature on a will. 
  • Bills of exchange.

The ECTA also covers cybercrime and unauthorised access to data such as interception of data, computer-related extortion, fraud, and forgery. Should anyone be found guilty, they can face a fine or imprisonment.

A key takeaway is that, if used correctly, the ECTA paves a way for organisations to be able to continue to operate in uncertain times such as these.

Follow Snymans on Facebook for more legal information, tips and news about property.

Recommended for you

My name has changed - what happens to my property’s title deed?
Contractual Matters

Corporate actions and resolutions[post_view before=""]

In South Africa, the business and affairs of a company must be managed by its board of directors. As such, the board is responsible for the daily corporate and commercial affairs of the company.

Read More
Minors and immovable property
Contractual Matters

Defunct Homeowners Associations and Consents to Transfer[post_view before=""]

Title deeds of cluster developments commonly contain a condition which states that alienation or transfer of a property by the owner is not allowed unless consent from the Homeowners Association (HOA) is provided. Usually inserted by the relevant local authority when approving the cluster development, this type of condition also confirms that all subsequent owners of the property automatically become members of the HOA.

Read More
The difference between movable and immovable property
Contractual Matters

The conveyancing process explained[post_view before=""]

The conveyancing process starts with a signed Offer to Purchase and ends with the property being registered in the Deeds Office. But, there are numerous steps that need to be completed in between. Here’s a look at how the process unfolds.

Read More
Property Blog Articles | Advice | Contractual Matters | Market News
Contractual Matters

Your home loan is paid up. What happens next?[post_view before=""]

Often, a bond will be paid up before the owner of the property decides to sell it. Here’s a step-by-step look at what he or she can expect once they reach this impressive milestone.

Read More
Minors and immovable property
Contractual Matters

10 conveyancing terms explained[post_view before=""]

When it comes to buying or selling a property, it helps to have a basic understanding of the many legal terms involved in the conveyancing process. Here’s a look at the 10 you’re likely to encounter most often, starting with conveyancing itself.

Read More

Need more Snymans content?

Sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Electronic signatures in South Africa

There’s an ongoing discussion in the commercial world, especially in property law, around the types of documentation that can be signed electronically.

The ins and outs of subject to bond approval clauses

The Electronic Communications and Transaction Act 2002 (ECTA) is the Act that allows for electronic signatures to take place within a commercial or non-commercial setting, and it also regulates e-government services. 

The ECTA regulates and prescribes that certain documents can be signed electronically. Such electronic signatures constitute representation as if hand signed on paper. The Act also states that documents containing electronic signatures be “original” documents under certain conditions. 

When entering into any agreement, an acceptable form of an electronic signature can be created by:

  • Using a stylus device or your finger to draw your signature. 
  • Uploading an image of your signature and overlaying it on the document 
  • Using your cursor to draw your signature


These examples can be viewed as a standard electronic signature and will be accepted unless the document or legislation specifically requests an Advanced Electronic Signature (AES). The ECTA defines an AES as an electronic signature that has been accredited by the Authority as provided for by the Department of Communication. 

If any amendments take place to an agreement, initialling and signatures can be done electronically on the proviso that the correct electronic signatures were used initially.

The types of documents that cannot be signed electronically are:

  • An agreement of sale for immovable property. 
  • Long-term leases of land exceeding 20 years.
  • A signature on a will. 
  • Bills of exchange.

The ECTA also covers cybercrime and unauthorised access to data such as interception of data, computer-related extortion, fraud, and forgery. Should anyone be found guilty, they can face a fine or imprisonment.

A key takeaway is that, if used correctly, the ECTA paves a way for organisations to be able to continue to operate in uncertain times such as these.

Follow Snymans on Facebook for more legal information, tips and news about property.