n SA Mercantile Law Journal = SA Tydskrif vir Handelsreg - Electronic wills with an aura of authenticity : : case comments

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1015-0099
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2185



We live in what has been termed 'a quicksilver technological environment'. Regardless of perceived ethical or enforcement limitations, laws have become increasingly significant in applying general principles to the electronic environment. Some people will argue that 'technology can be just as powerful as the law in constraining or regulating digital activity' (F Fitzgerald et al (2007) at 1-2).

In line with our own 'quicksilver' technological environment, Van Staden and Rautenbach convincingly argue that the formality requirements of the Wills Act 7 of 1953 for validly executing a will have not kept up with technological advances, and that there is an increasing need for this statute to provide for electronic wills. This is relevant because technology such as electronic signatures significantly reduces the possibility of fraud. By using and understanding technology, the integrity and genuineness of an electronically executed will can be ensured (André R van Staden & Christa Rautenbach 'Enkele Gedagtes oor die Behoefte aan en die Toekoms van Elektroniese Testamente' (2006) 39 586; cf DP van der Merwe 'How Standards (such as XML) Accomplish Electronic Authentication in Web Services' (2005) 26 665). I support this view.

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