What is an Electronic Signature Certificate?
It is an electronic declaration that links the validation data of a signature with a natural person and confirms, at least, the name or pseudonym of that person.
What is a Qualified Electronic Signature Certificate?
The Qualified Electronic Signature Certificate will be "Qualified" if it has been issued by a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP) and contains the following data:
a) An indication, at least in a format suitable for automatic processing, that the certificate has been issued as a Qualified Electronic Signature Certificate.
(b) a set of data that clearly represents the qualified trustworthy service provider issuing the qualified certificates, including at least the Member State in which the service provider is established, and
For legal persons: the name and, where applicable, the registration number as recorded in official registers.
For natural persons, the name of the person.
(c) At least the name of the signatory or a pseudonym; if a pseudonym is used, it shall be clearly indicated
(d) Electronic signature validation data corresponding to the electronic signature creation data.
(e) Data relating to the beginning and end of the period of validity of the certificate
(f) The identity code of the certificate, which must be unique for the Qualified Trust Service Provider .
(g) The advanced electronic signature or advanced electronic seal of the issuing qualified service provider.
(h) The place where the certificate supporting the advanced electronic signature or advanced electronic seal referred to in point (g) is available free of charge.
(i) The location of the services that can be used to check the validity status of the Qualified Certificate
(j) Where the electronic signature creation data related to the electronic signature validation data are held in a qualified electronic signature creation device, an appropriate indication of this, at least in a form suitable for automatic processing
These certificates are issued by a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP).
What are the benefits of using a Qualified Electronic Signature Certificate?
The "Qualification" of a certificate provides additional guarantees for compliance with Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC (ReIDAS).
The regulations establish that electronic evidence on which a trusted electronic service from a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP) has been applied has a presumption of legal validity, i.e. the law itself gives validity to these services. This means:
The validity of a "Qualified" Electronic Signature on an electronic document is equivalent to a handwritten signature on a paper document.
In the event of a dispute before a court, the court determines that this evidence is valid without the need to provide any expert evidence to prove it.
If one of the parties to the trial persists in opposing such validity, it must bear the cost of an expert's report alone in order to prove that the service of confidence has failed and the electronic document is not authentic, complete, etc.
However, trust services eIDAS "non-qualified" do not receive a presumption of validity.
If one of the parties to a trial questions the validity of the handwritten signature or the "qualified" electronic signature of a document, he or she must prove that the signature is not valid by requesting calligraphic expert evidence (in the case of a handwritten signature) or technical expert evidence (in the case of an electronic signature).
However, in the case of an electronic document with a "non-Qualified" Electronic Signature, the burden of proof is reversed: the person who provided it must prove the validity of the service by means of expert evidence (at the expense of the report), if it is contested by the other party.