Section Seven of the Electronic Communications Act 2000 became law yesterday, making digital signatures legally admissible as evidence in UK courts.

Many countries are adopting digital signatures. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said: "Electronic signatures are essential if contracts are to be concluded over the Internet."

Section Seven received Royal Assent in May, but was subject to two months of standard legislation-conventions, the DTI said.

Business boon A DTI spokesman added: "This will mainly affect businesses, but it is affecting the individual more and more."

The UK act comes into effect less than a month after the US accepted electronic signatures as equally binding as paper signatures.

With both countries having electronic signature laws in place, it could cause a wave of electronic commerce between the two countries. The DTI said: "The law on our end recognizes signatures from overseas."

For the full DTI statement click this link.