Electronic Signature Laws & Regulations - Greece

Note:

As a European Union (EU) Member State, Greece is governed by Regulation No. 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (eIDAS). For more information on eIDAS, please read the Electronic Signature Laws & Regulations in the EU.

Overview

Until recently, electronic signatures and certificate-based digital signatures were not commonly used for the execution of contracts in Greece.  However, Greece has recently undergone a digital transformation which resulted in an increased interest in electronic signatures in the business community.

Next to the eIDAS Regulation, key laws that regulate the use of electronic signatures in Greece include:

  1. Law 4727/2020 on digital governance and electronic communications (Government Gazette A’ 184/23.09.2020) which constitutes the key piece of legislation on electronic signatures and regulates the enforceability of electronic documents for both public and private entities.
  2. Decision No. 813/5/2017 “Regulation for the Provision of Trust Services” (Government Gazette 4396/B/14-12-2017) EETT Regulation) which was issued by the EETT* and sets forth specific rules for trust services and the application of the eIDAS Regulation in Greece.
  3. Law 4070/2012 which establishes the competencies of EETT in relation to trust services and sets the rules on sanctions that can be imposed in the event of a violation of electronic signature legislation; and
  4. Substantive and procedural civil law rules relating to contract formalities and evidence Civil Code provisions relating to contract formalities

*The Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) is the national supervisory authority responsible for the implementation of the eIDAS Regulation in Greece.

Under Article 158 of the Civil Code, a contract can in principle be valid and binding without being subject to any formalities (except for specific types of contracts where the law expressly requires a certain form). Thus, a signature is not necessarily required for a valid and enforceable contract in Greece as long as the parties have reached an agreement that another formality will be binding.

In accordance with eIDAS, Greek law distinguishes between (i) standard electronic signatures (“SES”), (ii) advanced electronic signatures (“AES”) , and (iii) qualified electronic signatures (“QES”).

Article 16 paragraph 1 Law 4727/2020 states that use of QES is mandatory only where written form is prescribed by statute or agreed upon between the parties. Accordingly, QES is required for the following documents:

  1. termination of employment agreements and severance and release agreements;
  2. temporary employee staffing agreements;
  3. renewal of fixed term employment agreement;
  4. conclusion of collective labour agreements;
  5. notifications to labour authorities;
  6. abstract acknowledgement of obligation or promise οf debt;
  7. termination of commercial lease agreements;
  8. agreements on intangible assets (e.g. transfers and assignment or licenses of copyright, patents, trademarks etc.);
  9. finance agreements;
  10. court briefs, pleadings, petitions and other procedural documents filed with certain courts;
  11. audit reports on annual financial statements;
  12. documents requiring attestation of signature (Article 11 Law 2690/1999);
  13. public tender offers and documents submitted in the context of public procurement procedures (Council of State Decision 210/ 2020, 213/2020 and 212/2020, Court of Appeals Decision 764/2020, Administrative Court of Appeals Decision 622/2020 and 265/2020Circular Π1/542, 4/3/2014 of the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness); and
  14. documents addressed to public authorities/ institutions.

QES may also be recommended for other high value or strategic use cases even where it is not provided for by law.

NOTE: EU Member States have the obligation to establish, maintain and publish trusted lists of Qualified Trust Service Providers (QTSPs) and the qualified trust services provided by them. A QTSP certified in any EU Member State will be recognized as a QTSP by all other Member States. Accordingly, no EU Member State may question the qualified status once a QTSP has been added to the trusted list by the supervisory authority of another Member State. The list of QTSP providers for Greece is available at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/tl-browser/#/tl/EL and is also listed on the EETT website at https://www.eett.gr/opencms/opencms/EETT_EN/Electronic_Communications/DigitalSignatures/TrustedList.html.

Note:

EU Member States have the obligation to establish, maintain and publish trusted lists of Qualified Trust Service Providers (QTSPs) and the qualified trust services provided by them. A QTSP certified in any EU Member State will be recognized as a QTSP by all other Member States. Accordingly, no EU Member State may question the qualified status once a QTSP has been added to the trusted list by the supervisory authority of another Member State. The list of QTSP providers for Greece is available at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/tl-browser/#/tl/EL and is also listed on the EETT website at https://www.eett.gr/opencms/opencms/EETT_EN/Electronic_Communications/DigitalSignatures/TrustedList.html.


Special Considerations

Transacting with public sector entities

The government recently launched a dedicated portal (www.gov.gr), through which a wide range of documents addressed to public authorities such as PoAs, and Solemn Declarations can be produced electronically.

When interacting with governmental bodies by electronic means, natural or legal persons are often required to use a QES. Additionally, public procurement contracts are to a large extent concluded electronically. The Hellenic Public Administration and Certification Authority is a public authority that provides citizens and public authorities with electronic trust services that are often used when transacting with public sector entities.

According to Article 13 Law 4727/2020, public electronic documents may be issued in the following forms:

  1. original electronic documents, which are affixed with the public authority’s or official’s qualified electronic seal, time stamp or signature. Such documents are considered equivalent to documents bearing handwritten signatures and are mandatorily accepted by any public authority, court, prosecutor’s office, natural or legal person and legal entity.
  2. electronic true copies, which are affixed with the public authority’s or official’s qualified electronic seal, time stamp or signature, together with the indication “true copy” and the details of the final signatory. Such documents have the legal effect of a true copy of an original document.
  3. digitized electronic copies, which are affixed with the public authority’s or official’s qualified electronic seal, time stamp or signature, together with an attestation certifying that the document is a copy of the original hardcopy. Such documents have the legal effect of a copy of an original document.

Provided that the document can be confirmed as being accurate and valid, printouts of the above electronic documents are also mandatorily accepted.

Use cases that generally require a traditional signature

In Greece, it is advisable to use a traditional signature for documents that require notarization or other statutory formalities. Examples include:

  1. contracts which create or transfer rights in immovable property such as contracts to purchase/ sale real estate, real estate charges, constitution of mortgages;
  2. Grants/ donations;
  3. Lease agreements with duration more than nine years;
  4. Contracts governed by family law, such as civil partnership agreements, establishment of community of property between spouses or recognition of child;
  5. Contracts governed by inheritance law (e.g. some types of testaments);
  6. Declaration of the guarantor with regard to contracts of surety; also required in case the contracts of surety ancillary to a contract that requires a notarial deed;
  7. Contracts governed by family law, such as civil partnership agreements, establishment of community of property between spouses, recognition of child; 
  8. Articles of incorporation for the establishment of various types of companies;
  9. Amendments of AoA, resolutions, share transfer agreements of limited liability companies where the notarial form is prescribed by law;
  10. Merger agreements, agreements on spinoffs and other types of restructuring of societe anonymes, limited liability companies and private capital companies;
  11. Certain types of Power of Attorney which require notarization.
Note:

Disclaimer: Information on this page is intended to help businesses understand the legal framework of electronic signatures. However, Adobe cannot provide legal advice. You should consult an attorney regarding your specific legal questions. Laws and regulations change frequently, and this information may not be current or accurate. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Adobe provides this material on an "as-is" basis. Adobe disclaims and makes no representation or warranty of any kind with respect to this material, express, implied or statutory, including representations, guarantees or warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or accuracy.

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