ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS AND TRANSACTIONS ACT, 2002: FACILITATING ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS
The Electronic Communication and Transactions (ECT) Act deals with the removal of legal barriers to electronic transacting, consisting of two parts:
Part 1 – Legal Requirements for Data Messages
- It gives legal recognition to electronic documents and recognizes that electronic documents and signatures can serve as the electronic functional equivalent of their paper-based counterparts (equivalent);
- It makes provision for the legal recognition of electronic signatures, examples include: your typed name at the end of your email, a digital signature or a scanned image of your handwritten signature;
- Provision is also made for integrity being key to ensuring proper evidentiary weight of electronic evidence. The integrity of the information contained in a document is maintained if the information has remained complete and unaltered;
- It allows the keeping of records in electronic format;
- It also recognizes that information can be incorporated into a document through the use of hyperlinks;
- Contracts can be achieved through machines functioning as electronic agents for parties to an electronic transaction;
- The ECT Act does not specify what type of technology must be used.
Part 2 – Communication of Data Messages
- It creates certain presumptions as to the time (when) and place (where) you are believed to have received information.
- It also covers situations where data messages are believed to have been sent by someone.
- It also provides acknowledgement of receipt of a data message, although there is not a legal requirement to do so.
In case you’re still wondering if electronic documents are legally acceptable in court, the answer is Yes! The ECT Act encourages the use of electronic (digital) format and communication, and considers paper-based documents and electronic documents equivalent. Best practice must be followed at all times.