The digitization of processes and documentation has become the standard in numerous business sectors, leading to a substantial surge in the volume of data handled by companies.
The legal sector is no exception to this trend. The pandemic of 2020 has largely reshaped the way in which legal operations are conducted. More than just an opportunity to gain in flexibility, time and savings, digital transformation is a real necessity to remain competitive in the face of customers who are always looking for a better user experience and total security for their sensitive and confidential documents (internal documents, commercial contracts, contracts between partners, acquisition, transfer of securities or assets, etc.).
The technology that best represents this major change is of course the electronic signature, embraced by legal professionals across the board, even during face-to-face closing sessions, bringing efficiency and practicality into the equation.
However, the widespread use of this technology should lead legal professionals to question their management of electronically signed legal documents. Often tempted to use online drives or physical media such as USB sticks to store their data, these storage solutions fail to protect lawyers and deal-makers against data leakage and alteration.
It is therefore essential for them to equip themselves with a solution capable of preserving the validity, integrity and legal security of their customers’ data. This is where the digital safe becomes an essential complement to the electronic signature. The guarantees offered by this solution in terms of legal compliance, confidentiality and evidence preservation make the digital safe an essential tool to adopt as soon as possible.
Document preservation: what are your legal obligations?
Within the European Union, the retention of electronic documents is subject to legal obligations, although these may vary from country to country due to certain national competencies. Nevertheless, there are a number of directives and regulations at the EU level which influence the way in which member states manage the retention of electronic documents.
One of these key regulations is the eIDAS Regulation (Regulation (EU) N°910/2014), which governs the mutual recognition of electronic signatures and electronic transactions throughout the European Union. According to eIDAS, qualified advanced electronic signatures have the same legal value as handwritten signatures and must be uniformly accepted in all member states. The legal obligations relating to document retention in the EU aim to guarantee the security, integrity and confidentiality of electronic documents, while promoting confidence in digital transactions within the European single market.
The ability to demonstrate non-alteration and compliance with integrity maintenance processes during the preservation phase is therefore crucial to avoid sanctions and guarantee the legality and validity of electronic documents.
The eIDAS regulation has standardized and established a framework to ensure that electronic interactions between businesses in the European Union are safer, faster, and more efficient.
Storage on a drive or physical device
Preserving documents after the deal has been closed is still a secondary issue for many legal professionals and lawyers. As a matter of fact, they sometimes use a variety of storage solutions to store their documents, in the (mistaken) belief that they are meeting legal retention requirements.
Why is this a mistake? First, it’s important to understand the difference between storage and archiving.
On the one hand, storage refers to the action of collecting and storing digital data to facilitate access and share digital files and documents to enhance collaboration. Data can be stored on a variety of physical or dematerialized media: a computer, a USB key, a document cabinet, an online Drive, or an EDM solution, etc.
Often preferred for its low cost, sometimes even free of charge, and for the significant storage space it allows, it does not, however, guarantee integrity over the long term. Content can easily be deleted or altered by the various users who have access to it.
Digital archiving refers to the long-term preservation of sensitive documents, in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. The aim of electronic archiving or EAS (Electronic Archiving System) in an electronic safe is to preserve original digital documents electronically signed using reliable technology.
This process, which aims to establish a chain of trust, meets drastic security requirements in order to guarantee the integrity, confidentiality, availability, durability and reversibility of the documents stored in the digital safe.
Find out more about the difference between storage and archiving ➡ Storage vs. archiving with probative value: what are the differences?
Protect your legal documents with an electronic safe
Closd‘s legal project management solution allows end-to-end management of transactional operations, from the due diligence stage (data room) to closing (interactive closing checklists, electronic signature and automated generation of closing bibles). To secure your electronically signed documents via DocuSign and CertEurope technologies, Closd also integrates Docaposte’s Arkhineo SAE technology (ISO 27001 certified, eIDAS and RGPD compliant), which enables you to quickly open one or more electronic safes, without any IT development.
5, 10 or 20 years – choose the storage period of your choice. Integrated natively into Closd, the digital safe features an intuitive interface, so you can immediately get to grips with the tool, with no training required. Your data can be accessed at any time, from any device, in a secure space.
The first of the two requirements for an electronic document to be used as evidence is met by Closd, which provides an evidence file at the time of electronic signature. The second requirement is met by Arkhineo, which, as an electronic consignor, offers an EAS service with probative value, ensuring that the integrity of signed digital documents is preserved throughout the legal retention period by means of an archival proof file.
➡ To find out more about the Arkhineo digital safe solution via Closd, please don’t hesitate to contact us!