As the world moves more and more into the digital and electronic environment, most countries worldwide have adopted legislation and regulations that recognise the legality of a digital signature and deem it to be a binding signature.
New Zealand has also passed legislation that deals with this issue, and the ability to sign documents in this way is authorised in New Zealand by the Electronic Transactions Act 2002.
This is overarching legislation and applies to both private and public sector activities and not just for commercial activities.
From Sec 5 of that act, electronic signature, in relation to information in electronic form, means a method used to identify a person and to indicate that person’s approval of that information.
There are two basic functions of an electronic signature (1) identification of the signatory and (2) expression of agreement of the signatory and the receiver consents to receiving an electronic signature;
- On the 14th October 2016, Inland Revenue published a Standard for the use of a valid electronic signature on documents provided to the Commissioner, i.e. Income Tax, GST and other documentation filed using Inland Revenue’s online services or by providing electronic signatures using software that complies with the standard.
- The Registrar of Companies is in the process of preparing and reviewing the criteria and technical requirements for the use of valid electronic signatures on documents provided to the Registrar and the nature of and circumstances in which the Registrar will accept documents signed by such means. This will be available to the public once finalised.
Various other entities, businesses, government departments are moving to embrace this ability and as New Zealand conducts activities both within New Zealand and overseas, it seems the logical step to take.
So, what has this got to do with you?
Nexia New Zealand is embracing the electronic and paperless office concept to a greater degree in the future, which means in 2017 you will have the option to receive all documents electronically and they will be stored in your client portal. You will be able to sign these with a digital signature and we can file them with the appropriate entity without the need for paper copies to be held.
At all times you will have access to these documents for other parties, the banks for instance.
If you chose to have a hard copy of the documents we provide, these can be printed via the client portal, as and when you require them.
We will keep you updated as this occurs.