Is an electronically signed document equivalent to a paper document?
From a legal standpoint, an electronically signed document (PDF) holds the same weight as a paper document. This conclusion is stemming from the provisions outlined in Section 40 (4) and (5) of Act No. 40/1964, the Civil Code. These provisions state that the written form is upheld when a legal action is carried out through telegraph, telex, or electronic means that capture the content of the legal action and identify the individual responsible for the action. Written form is preserved when an electronically executed legal action is accompanied by a secure electronic signature or seal.
For legal actions conducted electronically and signed with a qualified electronic signature or seal, along with a timestamp, there is no necessity for certification of the signature's authenticity. In other words, it is equal to verification of the identity of some person by notary.
Consequently, it's evident that a written document signed by parties and a PDF document signed by parties, as described above, are equal documents.
Can guaranteed conversion of document maintain legal effects?
According to Section 35 of Act No. 305/2013 on e-Government, conversion refers to the process wherein the entire, commonly perceivable informational content of the original a) electronic document is transmuted into a freshly constituted paper document or b) paper document is altered into a newly created electronic document.
Guaranteed conversion signifies the conversion procedure intended to preserve the legal effects of the original document and its utility for legal procedures executed through the process of guaranteed conversion.
Hence, it's also evident that a document produced through guaranteed conversion (e.g., via Law Firm) is equal to the written form of the respective document.
Are public authorities obliged to accept electronic documents?
In alignment with Section 17 (1) of the e-Government Act, a public authority is mandated to exercise public authority electronically under the provisions of this Act. This obligation doesn't apply in instances involving actions linked to rights, legally safeguarded interests, or obligations of individuals:
a) in cases where specific regulations explicitly stipulate that a public authority exclusively conducts these actions in paper form,
b) when specific regulations mandate or permit the execution of these actions orally, through implicit expression of will, or by presenting something that lacks a paper or electronic form, or
c) when the actions entail activities such as oral hearings, local investigations, inspections, or direct supervision at the inspected or supervised entity, examinations, perusing files, presentations, and similar activities conducted outside the official premises of the public authority.
Furthermore, as per paragraph (3) of the aforementioned Section, in some situation only electronic communication is acceptable in communication with public authorities and in some situation also paper communication is acceptable in communication with public authorities.
These provisions underscore that public authorities are mandated to exercise public authority electronically unless specific regulations explicitly stipulate that a public authority must exclusively execute its jurisdiction in paper form. Having said that, when communicating with a public authority, electronic communication is feasible via the website www.slovensko.sk.
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