As with many legal matters, there is not just one answer to this question.
First, let’s look at the two types of electronic signatures as defined by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (ECTA). There is an electronic signature and an advanced electronic signature. The first includes both electronic signatures submitted via a computer or mobile phone, for example, as well as scanned signatures. This covers the vast majority of electronic signatures, including those used with Imfuna’s property inspection software, both mobile and online.
The other type of electronic signature is an advanced electronic signature (AES), which is a bit more heavy duty than the first. In relation to property, this type of signature is required for any transaction that stipulates must be accompanied by an AES. Software that facilitates this type of electronic signature must be accredited by the South African Accreditation Authority (www.saaa.gov.za) in order to legally provide this type of electronic signature.
Imfuna’s property reports use the first type of electronic signature, and by the ECTA’s definition these are legally binding for the purposes of two parties agreeing on the validity of the content contained within the report. Our software is not accredited by the SAAA, however it is not required to be as the types of transactions Imfuna facilitates do not require an AES.
In summary, the short and sweet answer to this question is yes, Imfuna’s electronic signatures are legally binding in South Africa. To learn more about our mobile and web-based electronic signatures, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to show you how the system works.
For additional resources about the law regarding electronic signatures, we recommend the following references:
Smith Taba Buchanan Boyes Law Office Guidance: Paperless Office: What Can I Sign Electronically?
Law Society of South Africa: Electronic Signatures for South African Law Firms