A definitive guide to electronic signatures and NDAs

women discussing electronic signatures and NDAs

A non-disclosure agreement helps organisations to share confidential information with employees and partners. If you want to share sensitive data, an NDA document is a vital requirement. A signed non-disclosure agreement protects all involved, but the time take to get it signed could slow down progress.

Having a good electronic signature solution in place for NDAs makes the process seamless.

Here are the most common questions we’re asked about non-disclosure agreements and eSignature.

Do I need a mutual non-disclosure agreement?

An NDA is required when you want to ensure another party doesn’t share any confidential information you communicate to them. It’s especially useful when you need to share valuable information about your business with partners.

It ensures the other party can’t use the information without your approval. If both parties intend to share confidential information, you’ll need a mutual non-disclosure agreement. If only one party is sharing sensitive information, you only need a one-sided agreement.

Do NDA’s need to be physically signed?

No, an electronic signature is enough, the UK observes the Electronic Communications Act 2000. It’s based on a European Community framework for electronic signatures and accepts them as a valid form of signature. This information was further clarified when the UK Law Commission confirmed that electronic signatures could be used to sign formal legal contracts.

In most cases, electronic signatures can be used as a viable alternative to handwritten ones.

Will an electronic signature make a non-disclosure agreement legally binding?

Yes, both the Electronic Communications Act 2000 and the eIDAS regulation recognise electronic signature in the UK to be legally binding. When conducting business in different countries, there is often a choice of which law to use, and it is left to individual parties to decide.

What are the benefits of signing an NDA electronically?

With an electronic signature, parties can sign anywhere, anytime and from a mobile device. DocuSign eSignature has an audit trail which provides peace of mind and can help you nudge the agreement along if any delays occur during signing.

DocuSign also offers bank-grade security and regulatory compliance, protecting confidential information with public key infrastructure (PKI). It uses industry-leading standards of enforceability and multiple levels of authentication.

Can I ask a prospective employee to sign an NDA?

You may need to share an NDA during your hiring and recruitment process. More and more HR professionals are using electronic signature and digital solutions to make this stage of recruitment quick and efficient. Storing signed documents electronically is useful should they need to be retrieved in future.

Should a potential customer be asked to sign an NDA?

It can be appropriate to have a prospective buyer sign an NDA to avoid them using information and figures to leverage a deal with a competitor or similar.

I want to create an NDA electronically. Where do I start?

DocuSign has a template library with pre-tagged non-disclosure agreement templates to choose from, allowing you to get started quickly. You can create reusable NDA templates to reduce document setup time.

What’s more, DocuSign for Google Docs offers a standard mutual NDA template from the legal solution experts at LegalZoom which can be found within the Google Docs template gallery. The common fields are automatically filled out at the time of signing to make things even easier for all parties.

If you want to try one of DocuSign’s NDA templates, find out more about why you need an electronic signature or register for our free eSignature 30-day trial.

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