Electronic Signatures in E-Commerce

Over the last 10 years, e-commerce has become one of the fastest growing internet sectors in the world. The basic legal tool in e-commerce is the electronic contract, a contract whose conclusion and execution are done through electronic communication devices. Many States have adapted their legislation to the challenges that e-commerce pose to both consumers and legislators. In countries, such as the United States and the members of the European Union, governments have passed legislative regulations in order to address the deficiencies and loopholes in their commercial codes and laws.

In Turkey, the legislation concerning the instruments of the e-commerce is one of the most advanced regulations in the world. In order to harmonize the European Union legislation and the Turkish legislation, the Turkish Parliament has passed the law “E-signature Law No. 5070”, which came into force on 23 July 2004. This law establishes a legal framework for electronic signatures in Turkey laying the foundations for the development of e-commerce legislation in the country.

 This electronic signature, as it is stated in the EU Directive and the e-signature law, refers to the data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other electronic data and that is used as a method of authentication.  The main purpose of the e-signature is that it ensures that the electronic data associated to it is used by the legitimate user or “signatory”, according to the mentioned law.

Another legislation amendment was made in Law of Obligations, No: 6098, entered into force on 01 July 2012. The new law states that electronic signature has the same validity, legal effects and consequences as handwritten signatures. Pursuant to article 14 and 15 of the law, parties are free to use electronic signatures in all of their contracts and contracts, which are signed by an electronic signature, will have the same legal consequences as any handwritten contracts.

In Turkey, electronic signatures are widely used in sectors such as banking and financial services, retailing, trade, proceedings with the administrations and last but not least transportation and logistics. In addition to that, there is also a tendency to increase the usage of e-signatures in other sectors and it is expected that they will be very common in a few years in Turkey.

To sum up, recent changes in the Turkish legislations such as “E-signature law” and “Turkish Code of Obligations” provided the legal background for e-commerce. New legislative changes will enhance the usage of e-signatures and e-contracts in Turkey.