Emails, Are they Legal Documents?

Are electronically signed emails legally binding in Taiwan? I have been told that the only binding documents are ones on formal letterhead and hand signed.
Can anybody help me out on this one?

Someone told you wrong. While it took a lot of urging, Taiwan’s government finally passed an Electronic Signature Law over a year ago. If the parties to a private contract agree or if a law requires a written document, an electronic record may suffice. See the below law.


Thanks for the info. Very usefull.


I know the the email question has been answered but I was wondering, if a contract was hand written, signed, and dated, without any formal lettering or formal letterhead, is it still considered a binding document in Taiwan?

…but I heard that contracts written in English were not valid when the original was in Chinese! Is this some sort of urban myth?

[quote=“The Big Babou”]…but I heard that contracts written in English were not valid when the original was in Chinese! Is this some sort of urban myth?[/quote]If the English contract is different from the Chinese one (which presumably you signed too), which one do you think would be accepted more in a court ?

I hate acting like an authority (particularly when I’m not getting paid to do so) because then I’m expected to know what I’m talking about, but here goes.

There are different kinds of legal documents in the world including those that one files with a government office and those that are contracts between two or more parties. For the former, whether e-mails or English language documents are acceptable depends on what the government says. Surely in Taiwan they will require Chinese for almost everything. As for the latter, what is acceptable in an agreement between two parties depends on what the parties agree to, preferably in the contract.

Many contracts contain language something like this: “This contract is written in the English language. Any translation of the contract into another language shall be for convenience only and in the event of a dispute the English version shall prevail.”

Whether or not e-mails constitute binding legal documents in a relationship between two parties could also depend on the terms of a contract. If I enter into a written contract with you and the contract says that e-mails are not an acceptable method of communication then so be it. But otherwise, due to teh Electronic Signature law (which most developed countries have today) e-mails can be legally binding.

So to say that all agreements in Taiwan must be in writing in Chinese is nonsense. If TSMC wants to manufacture wafers based on oral agreements in Hungarian they have every right to do so.

But is does an everyday e-mail constitute a digital signature, or does there have to be some sort of encrytption to ensure that you are really the person sending the e-mail?

Article 10 states "Where a digital signature is employed in an electronic record, for the first paragraph of Article 9 to be applicable, the digital signature shall meet the following requirements:

  1.  it shall be supported by a certificate issued by a certification authority whose certification practice statement is approved in accordance with Article 11 or which is permitted in accordance with Article 15; and
  2.  the certificate is still valid and is not used contrary to its limitation of use."

Not entirely sure what that means. The first paragraph of article 9 is “Where a law or regulation requires a signature or seal, with the consent of the other party, the requirement is satisfied by using an electronic signature.”