The signature requirements pertain the legal or contractual requirements in order to make a legally effective declaration of intent or a legally binding contract.
Possibility to replace a specific formal requirement of making a binding declaration of intention
A written form document may be replaced with the electronic documents, if such document is drafted in compliance with the E-Documents Law no 10 273 dated 29.4.2010, except the cases when the use of electronic signature/document for certain legal acts it is prohibited, as explained in answer to question (c) below.
Presence of any specific formal requirements to effectively conclude a loan agreement
Pursuant to the Regulation "On Consumer Loan and Mortgage Loan” (Regulation), the financial institution is obliged to make available to the customer the pre-contractor information which includes the interest, fees, and other costs of the loan. The Regulation provides that the pre-contractual information may be given in written or through other durable means (e.g. via email or other electronic communication means).
Concerning the loan agreement, which is signed after the customer has accepted the pre-contractual information, the Regulation determines that in all cases should be in written, implying that other means are not acceptable. The agreement should have understandable, clear, and distinct presentation and wording in the Albanian language. In terms of formatting, Times New Roman font must be used, with a font size of at least 10. The agreement should contain all the relevant information pertaining to the loan, as listed in the Regulation. One (1) copy of the agreement signed by the parties, should be handed to the consumer in the moment of signing.
Process of conclusion of a contract by using a qualified electronic signature in practice
According to the Albanian E-Signature Law no. 9880 date 25.2.2008, electronic documents, signed with a qualified electronic signature have the same legal validity and evidentiary value as the documents and legal actions of natural, legal, public, and private persons drafted and signed by a handwritten signature. In this respect, however, the E-Signature Law specifically requires that an electronic document must be signed through a qualified electronic signature by all the signatory parties, to be considered equivalent with a handwritten signed document.
The qualified certificate for electronic signature can only be issued by a TSP, which is an entity that must be registered and ‘accredited’ by the National Authority for Electronic Certification and Cyber Security (AKCESK) as a Trust Service Provider in Albania. TSP, upon identifying the person/entity applying for a qualified certificate, shall set a signature code for the applicant, which in turn is identifiable through the qualified certificate issued to the applicant. The qualified certificate is associated with a qualified electronic signature and contains specific data related to the holder of the certificate, such as the name of the holder of the signature code, the signature code, the number of the certificate and the term of its validity, the name of the TSP and the country of registration, and special qualities of the holder of the signature code. The signature control code can be verified electronically by any applicant, using the public electronic key while the private key is known only to its holder.
The E-Signature Law and E-Document Law restricts the use of the qualified electronic signature/document for certain legal acts, including acts related to family and inheritance law, Notary Public acts or Court Authorisations and bails for Release on parole, in respect of which the handwritten signature cannot be replaced by a qualified electronic signature for the purpose of their legal validity.
Legal consequences to a contract in case of not fulfilling formal requirements
Pursuant to the Albanian Civil Code, if a contract does not meet the statutory formal elements, it is considered null and void. Any of the contractual parties may object the validity of the contract in court and claim redemption in case of any financial damage as occurred to them.
Usual practice of signing contractual agreements in the B2B sector
In the B2B sector, the conclusion of agreements through electronic means is increasing. The electronic signature is also being applied usually in the banking sector.
Usual practice of signing contractual agreements in the B2C sector
Agreements with consumers are mostly drafted in written form and signed with wet ink handwritten. However, some companies that mainly operate in telecommunication sector, offer to customers applications that can be downloaded to their smartphone and through which they can enter into contracts for granting services provided by these operators. The electronic signature is also being applied in B2C sector, usually in the banking sector.