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picture of tbs certificates
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Unsigned email = No-value email

« The adoption of the European Directive 1999/93/EC of 13 December 1999 establishes a Community framework for the use of electronic signatures on electronic contracts in the EU. »

It has evolved since: in addition to being legally recognized, a digital signature is now mandatory if you want a digital document to be admited as a legal document.

It's been confirmed by the appeal court ruling of 2 September 2010, setting a precedent, that invalidated proofs in the form of digital documents as they were not digitally signed.


  • Mr A and Mr B exchange e-mails
  • a disagreement arrises
  • Mr A sues and presents Mr B's e-mails as evidence
  • Mr B denies being the author of those e-mails

Mr B obtains the e-mails to be removed from the procedure. Indeed, as the e-mails were not digitaly signed by a valid certificate, Mr A was never able to prove Mr B was actually the sender.

See the entire minutes of the court ruling

But a digital signature, in order to be admited in a law court and to have the same value than a hand-written signature, must meet several requirements (decree 2001-272 of 30 March 2001):

  • The certificate must be a nominative one
  • be attached to a single natural person
  • be impregnable
  • be linked to the document to guarantee its integrity
  • be supplied by a trusted third part.

Nota: a 1-factor certificate does not comply with these conditions since it is issued without any previous audit.

One also needs to distinguish "presumed reliable" signatures and "simple" ones. The formers are delivered by a list of certification authorities that have received an ANSSI qualification, the latters are also recognized but delivered by non-listed certification authorities.

All about presumed reliable certificates

You'll find on our website several 2-factor (and higher) certificates abiding by this law. With them you'll be able to digitaly sign documents and be identified as their author.

See TBS X509 email certificates

See also: ANSSI memento