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eSignature and Brexit: what now ?

Brexit
Thomas Choukroun

Thomas Choukroun

Content Manager @Yousign

Illustration: Mélusine Vilars

Unless you’ve been living under a solid rock for the past couple of years, you already know that on June 23rd, 2016, the British people chose to withdraw from the European Union. This decision is now known as Brexit.  After a few years of back-and-forth, hard negotiations, and a touch of graffiti, Brexit came into force on January 31st, 2020.
The question you’re probably asking yourself now (yes, you are asking yourself this question believe me) is whether Brexit has a significant impact on the electronic signature. 

Well, here is the answer to the question you are definitely asking yourself.

European-led framework for e-signatures

Before diving into the heart of this question, let’s not forget to mention that Europe has in fact a set of laws and regulations called eIDAS.

Ah, yes. Okay, let my break it down for you:
eIDAS stands for: Electronic Identification and trust Services. 
eIDAS is an EU regulation on electronic identification for electronic transactions in the European market. It entered into force in July of 2014 and applies from July 2016.   

This european set of laws and regulations is the cornerstone of national regulations in all member states for the provision of legally recognized electronic signatures. eIDAS defines the scope as well as the necessary conditions for e-signatures to be considered legal and compliant.

The eIDAS electronic signature regulation allows businesses to choose legally compliant providers to ensure that their agreements are legally binding. eSignature are recognized by law in ALL EU member states, provided they satisfy eIdas requirements.

eIDAS and Brexit

The only issue is: eIDAS is a European-led set of regulations with which all EU member states must comply. So, what happens when you are not part of the EU, but you still deal, on a regular basis, with businesses inside the EU? 

Let’s try to find a simple way to answer this question: Does eIDAS apply in the UK ?
No..actually, yes. A little bit.
In short, there’s no simple way to answer this question.

Now: if you’d like to make your life harder and know the ins-and-outs of the answer, first of all: 

Why ? 

Second of all, let us dig deeper into it:
Strictly speaking, eIDAS does not apply in the UK since it’s an EU regulation. However, the UK has incorporated the eIDAS rules into UK Law. According to the Information Commissioner’s office: if you are a UK trust service provider, you should assume that you still need to comply with eIDAS rules.
In a nutshell: e-signatures that are eIDAS-compliant will remain valid in the UK, since the eIDAS regulation has been incorporated into UK law.

GDPR and Brexit

Second question, almost as prickly as the first one: what about The General Data Protection Regulation law.
There again, this law on data protection is strictly made for EU member states and their citizens. Since the UK is now effectively out of the EU, does it mean that GDPR does not really concern them anymore ?

Rest assured. 

The United Kingdom and the UE struck a deal to make sure that GDPR stays applicable in the UK until July 1st, 2021.  Effectively, this means that all communication of personal data to the UK will not be considered as a transfer to a country outside of the EU.

Great. 

What’s going to happen from July 2nd, 2021 onward? 

The commission had until July 1st to adopt an adequacy decision based on the draft that was published on February 19th. Well, as of June 28th, 2021, the EU has formally adopted the adequacy decisions allowing data to continue flowing freely to the UK.  🍾

This effectively means that all the GDPR-related rules and regulations that were passed by the UK offer enough guarantees for them to be deemed as appropriate by the European Union.
However, this decision is set to be reviewed every four years to ensure that the levels of guarantee that are required by the EU are still met by the UK.

“Trust but verify”, you said ?

There you have it! In short, there is very little chance that Brexit will significantly affect e-signatures. Thankfully, our lawmakers have thought about everything and clearly anticipated the UK’s exit from the EU.
The only question that remains, and that we unfortunately won’t be able to answer in this article is:


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