PaperTrail Electronic Signature Solutions & their Legality

PaperTrail Electronic Signatures have become an increasingly important part of our overall EDMS Solutions.

Two specific Electronic Signature Solutions are available to meet both a basic requirement for quickly signing single documents as well as an advanced solution catering for the ability to create Signature Parcels to be presented as a pack of documents to be signed.

Our Signing Solutions are presented in Modular form which makes them readily available at any time to our client base.

This Modular approach is consistent across our varying Modules including our Workflow Module, Records Management Module, Dashboard Module and our Signature Modules.

In this article we will be focusing on both our current Signature Modules

– PaperTrail eSign Module
– PaperTrail Signature Hub

These are available separately where prospective Clients may have an alternative EDMS deployed.

Where a prospective Client may only require our Signature Solution to be integrated with their own internal systems this can be achieved using our API.

PaperTrail Electronic Signatures and their compliance with SA Common Law and the ECT Act

But firstly a note on PaperTrail Electronic Signatures and their compliance with SA Common Law and the ECT Act as presented by Michalsons Attorneys, a leading SA Law Firm specializing in Electronic Signatures:

“South African Common Law
PaperTrail signature solutions can be used to create electronic signatures that are valid in terms of South

African common law.

The electronic signatures they create meet the common law definition of a ‘signature’, because:

  • the person signing’s signature contains their name;
  • the person signing applies it themselves by choosing to apply it to a document; and
  • the person signing intended it to authenticate them because in the case of the eForms, they log into

the system using their credentials to authenticate themselves and the system has evidence of this

activity in its logs, and in the case of PaperTrail, they are sent an email verification link to their

email address to authenticate themselves and access the ability to the sign the document and

the system records when they click on this link.

The electronic signatures it creates would also be considered signatures in terms of the functional

approach, because our courts would focus on the intention behind using PaperTrail to associate an

electronic signature with a transaction to decide that the person signing using the electronic signature

intended it to be their signature.


The ECT Act (Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002) became law in South

Africa on Friday 30 August 2002. An electronic version of the law is available here: http://www.

Section 2 of the ECT Act says that “The objects of this Act are to enable and facilitate electronic

communications and transactions in the public interest […]”

PaperTrail electronic signatures are an effective way of facilitating electronic communications and

transactions and are therefore in line with the objects

In regard to Advanced Electronic Signatures this works the same way as a digital certificate, but the certifying authority is a specific organisation endorsed to issue advanced electronic signatures by the South African Department of Communications.

PaperTrail electronic signature solutions also let you deploy the 3 kinds of Digital Signatures including PKI digital signatures, digital certificates and the Advanced Electronic Signature.

It is important to note that where the Law requires a Wet Signature then an electronic signature cannot be used.”

PaperTrail eSign Module vs PaperTrail Signature Hub


  1. PaperTrail eSign Module (suitable for signing single documents)

    Our eSign Module caters for those Clients who largely wish to sign ad-hoc documents and route them (where multiple signatories are required).

    This functionality is available both to dedicated named Users within the PaperTrail EDMS as well as to external Users who do not form part of the licensed User base.

    Existing documents within the EDMS can be easily signed by simply placing a Signature block onto the document.
    Uploading Documents to be signed is managed through the eSign Module easy to use interface.

    Multiple Signatories can be added and these will then follow a built-in workflow for signing.

    Templates can be easily created and saved for re-use at any time.

    A view of Pending vs Completed Signatures is presented within the standard UI.

    A thorough Audit of the signing process is available both on the PaperTrail History Tab as well as within the Document Audit itself. A QR code is also visually represented on the document containing this Audit.

  2. PaperTrail Signature Hub Module (suitable for signing a Parcel of Documents)

    The key differences between the Signature Hub and the eSign Module are setout below

    – Multiple Signatories can be added or created via an efficient table type interface together with specific Roles.

    Selecting Signatories
The creation of Signature Parcels is available where multiple documents are needed to be sent as one pack
– Multiple Roles can be easily associated to different ‘Signatories’ for example, Approve, Notify, Sign, View

Adding Multiple Documents

Throughout this process a visual representation of the Signature Parcel built in workflow is presented as below

Signature Status

The Signature Status provides a quick view of the signing process and where any delays may be impacting on the built-in workflow.
The Signatories are promptly noted via email of documents that are awaiting their Signature.
Reminders are also sent at pre-determined times.
A History of the Signed Audit is shown in the image below.

Signature Audit

Where the document has been signed by an external party and not by a PaperTrail EDMS User, the document Audit in terms of Signatories is also available within the document as shown below.
The QR code ensures the validity of the printed document integrity should this Audit have been manipulated outside of PaperTrail for example within a standard image editing application.

Viewing the QR code by any standard QR Reader will display the original  Audit.

Signature Audit on Document

Viewing the signed documents within the PaperTrail UI together with all Signature Details and Signature History is shown below.

We trust the above has provided an insight into our Signature Solutions as well as a brief view of the ease of the functionality that these Modules provide.

Wayne Kirschner
General Manager

Where to find us

Johannesburg Office

138 Athol Street,
Highlands North,
Tel: 011 880 4411

Cape Town Office

Unit 5,
10 Park Lane, Grosvenor Square,
Century City, Cape Town
Tel: 021 913 1221

Durban Office

59 Aberdare drive, Industrial Park, Phoenix, Durban, 4051
Tel: 031 508 1520

Ghana Office

Empower Suites, 8th Floor, Block A, The Octagon, Barnes Road, Central Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 261 878 023

New Zealand Office

23 Piwakawaka Court, Rototuna, Hamilton, New Zealand 3210
Tel: +64 (0)21 646 767 OR
+64 (0) 2239 27507


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