6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 26, 2014 10:12 AM by AlexM88

    Multiple In Person Signatures


      Can Acrobat be used to create documents that multiple people can sign in person on the same computer and also be able to send it off to be signed by someone else like you would with a simple piece of paper? I know I can get similar functions with DocuSign and EchoSign, but don't want my in person signers to have to go to their email and Acrobat doesn't have a monthly fee. Most of the information I can find seems to be geared towards an individual signing their own document. If multiple signers create digital signature certificates on my computer is it still legally binding?

        • 1. Re: Multiple In Person Signatures
          IsakTen Level 4

          Sure. You can apply as many signatures to a PDF file as you want with different signing credentials. If you have signing credentials for different people on the same computer these people definitely can apply their signatures on this computer. If you transfer a [possibly already signed] PDF to a different computer, you can sign this PDF with more signatures with the signing credentials that reside on that computer. All Acrobat needs to sign is a signing credential (certificate with a private key).

          When you create a PDF you can pre-populate it with unsigned signature fields, which people will use to sign (this is a preferable workflow) or you can just graw a rectangle where you want a new signature to appear on a page and Acrobat will place the new signature there. Again, either way, you (or other people) can sign a PDF as many times as you wish.

          • 2. Re: Multiple In Person Signatures
            ddwilli Level 1

            And signing in that way is just as legally binding as using DocuSign or EchoSign?

            • 3. Re: Multiple In Person Signatures
              Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

              Absolutely NOT.


              Self-signed IDs created in Acrobat are legally meaningless; you can create an ID claiming you're Santa Claus and there's no verification whatsoever.


              EchoSign digitally certifies the document using Adobe's public ID which is verifiable, so EchoSign documents are legally valid in most jurisdictions that accept electronic filings (though specific rules do vary).


              Commercially-sourced digital IDs, purchased from an official certification authority, are legally valid but require background checks and must be carried on a hardware key to be accepted by the Adobe Approved Trust List. IDs protected by only a password are not considered safe enough.



              Bear in mind that Acrobat and Reader were never designed with the idea that multiple users would be signing on the same machine. It's configured with the notion that the computer's owner is the only person using it, so signatures are installed and traces of them remain after use. A workflow where another person just picks up your laptop, taps in something on a dialog box and legally signs a PDF form does not exist.


              ddwilli wrote:


              And signing in that way is just as legally binding as using DocuSign or EchoSign?

              • 4. Re: Multiple In Person Signatures
                MichaelKazlow MVP & Adobe Community Professional



                I almost never disagree with you, but here I do. Self-signed certificates digital signatures are as legally binding as regular signatures---at least in the USA. Your analogy is no different with Santa Claus is no different than someone signing themselves as Santa Claus using their handwritting. I am not a legal expert and certainly the Wikipedia is not a certified legal source, but its article is consistent with my understanding of the law.


                Below is from the wikipedia.


                The U.S. Code defines an electronic signature for the purpose of US law as "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record."[10] It may be an electronic transmission of the document which contains the signature, as in the case of facsimile transmissions, or it may be encoded message, such as telegraphy using Morse code.

                In the United States, the definition of what qualifies as an electronic signature is wide and is set out in the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act ("UETA") released by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) in 1999.[11] It was influenced by ABA committee white papers and the uniform law promulgated by NCCUSL. Under UETA, the term means "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record." This definition and many other core concepts of UETA are echoed in the U.S. ESign Act of 2000.[10] 47 US states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands have enacted UETA.[12] Only New York, Washington State, and Illinois have not enacted UETA,[12] but each of those states has adopted its own electronic signatures statute.[13][14][15]



                If your intent is to sign a document, then your digital signature (no matter how you created it) is valid and legally enforceable. The problem is that many people don't understand the law. Many corporations don't want to accept any digital signatures and throw roadblocks in the way, by requiring certain certificates. There is nothing stopping  anyone requiring more than a regular signature. People and companies frequently require notarized signature or bank certified signatures. That is their choice. But if your signature on a contract is not notarized nor bank certified. It is still legally binding. Certification is just a process for proving that the signature is yours. It gives a level of protection. It doesn't effect whether the signature is binding.


                I have had agreements signed by clicking on a button on a web page. The agreement is binding. It is as enforceable and a written signature. Only if I claim I didn't press the button or I didn't sign the document does the contract come into question. That is the truth about all signatures---no matter who certifies it.


                Gentleman's handshakes are just as enforceable as far a contract law is concerned.

                • 5. Re: Multiple In Person Signatures
                  Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                  Self-signed IDs have no traceability whatsoever, so will be rejected in court as there is clearly reasonable doubt over who the person creating it really was.


                  Ink signatures on paper can be compared to exemplars, and online forms etc. which use "Accept" buttons or checkboxes in lieu of a formal signature verify the user's identity another way, for example by making them log in or collecting an email address elsewhere on the form, to which a notification copy can be sent. That doesn't happen with PDFs. If I sent someone a loan application form with 'your' signature on there would be absolutely no way to tell who created it or when, hence it cannot be binding.

                  • 6. Re: Multiple In Person Signatures

                    Am I correct saying that documents e-signed (not digitally signed) by user authenticated for example by email is illegal? Since it’s not possible to prove signer’s identity in court of low.