In Thailand, electronic signatures are commonly used in commercial transactions in the private sector. Certain state agencies have also adopted the use of electronic signatures. Thailand’s Electronic Transaction Act (ETA) governs electronic transactions, including electronic signatures. The ETA recognizes the validity of electronic documents or data messages that bear an electronic signature. Under the ETA, a document will not be denied legal effect and enforceability solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic format.
General Requirements of Electronic Signatures
Under the ETA, an electronic signature will be recognized as equivalent to a “wet” signature if it meets the following requirements:
Reliable Electronic Signature Assumption
An electronic signature will be deemed reliable if:
The ETA doesn’t distinguish between different types of electronic signatures. Accordingly, any electronic signature that meets the above requirements will be recognized as equivalent to a “wet” signature.
Notwithstanding the above, the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (“ETDA”), which is the state agency that is responsible for promoting and supporting electronic transactions in Thailand, has recently issued the ETDA Recommendation on ICT Standard for Electronic Transactions on Electronic Signature Guidelines (“Guidelines”). The Guidelines clarify the requirements of the ETA and provide examples of the types of electronic signatures that would satisfy these requirements.
The Guidelines have been issued to provide further clarification on the requirements of the ETA. However, they are not legally enforceable and there is no statutory penalty for a violation of the Guidelines.
Under the Guidelines, an electronic signature is classified into the following three categories (each with an increasing degree of reliability):
The Guidelines recommend that, when selecting the type of electronic signature to use in a transaction, the parties should consider relevant factors such as the applicable law, the frequency of the transactions, the nature of the transactions, the value of the transaction, the devices used by the parties, the ordinary course of business, and the industry practice.
According to a subordinate regulation issued under the ETA, electronic signatures cannot be applied to matters of family law and succession law. Apart from matters of family and succession law, the ETA does not prescribe any other specific circumstances or processes that cannot be conducted electronically. However, in practice, the following use cases also require a traditional “wet” signature:
Transacting with public sector entities
Under the ETA, state agencies are required to provide their rules and procedures for the use of electronic documents and electronic signatures. In regard to electronic signatures, state agencies must provide methods that are capable of identifying the signatory, the type, characteristic, and format of an electronic signature, and of demonstrating that the signatory certifies information appeared in the electronic documents. If transactions conducted with state agencies electronically are made in accordance with the requirements as prescribed by each state agency, such transactions (including electronic signatures) shall be deemed to have the same legal effect as the transaction or act performed traditionally.
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