What does legible signature mean

How to send documents with the beA? Tips for the PDF format

According to § 130a Abs. 2 ZPO1 the Federal Government shall determine the appropriate technical framework for the submission of an electronic document for the transmission and processing of an electronic document by means of a statutory ordinance with the consent of the Federal Council. This was done through the Electronic Legal Transactions Ordinance (ERVV).

I. The requirements for the .pdf file format

The relevant norm here is Section 2 (1) ERVV:

(1) The electronic document is to be transmitted in printable, copyable and, as far as technically possible, searchable form in the PDF file format. If pictorial representations in PDF file format cannot be reproduced without loss, the electronic document may also be transmitted in TIFF file format. The file formats PDF and TIFF must correspond to the versions published in accordance with Section 5 Paragraph 1 Number 1.

The permissible file formats for documents to be submitted electronically are converted to the .pdf file format by ERVV2 limited. However, further restrictions are imposed by section 2 (1) sentence 1 ERVV itself:

1. Printable, copyable and, as far as technically possible, searchable form

What do you mean with that? This formulation is intended to ensure that the court and the other recipients can generally process the electronic document further. Each .pdf can have security settings3 which can prevent a .pdf from being printed, searched and the searched document from being copied for further processing. In accordance with the requirements of Section 2 (1) ERVV, it is mandatory to submit printable and copyable electronic documents, while the searchability must be maintained “as far as technically possible”.

The searchability requirements should not be too high:
The best result is achieved when the font created with a word processor is saved in .pdf format straight away. But even then, especially in the case of images such as letterheads, it can happen that these are not searchable. The same applies if the electronic document was created by scanning a paper document and the image file created in this way was then treated with text recognition software (OCR) which, however, did not (correctly) recognize all characters.

2. Which PDF format

Due to the reference in Section 2 Paragraph 1 Clause 3 ERVV, the file format used must correspond to the versions published on the Internet:

a) ERVB 20184

According to the announcement on § 5 of the Electronic Legal Traffic Ordinance (Electronic Legal Traffic Announcement 2018 - ERVB 2018) of December 19, 2017, as permissible file versions5 according to § 5 paragraph 1 number 1 of the ERVV until at least 31 December 2020 in principle PDF including PDF 2.0, PDF / A-1, PDF / A-2 and PDF / UA are permitted.

The following are therefore excluded:

  • PDF / X - format for the transmission of print templates
  • PDF / H format for healthcare;
  • PDF / IE - format for engineering, architecture and geospatial information

b) ERVB 20196

As a result of the announcement of December 20, 2018, the general approval of the PDF up to and including version 2.0 was subject to various restrictions. The following definition is decisive for general practice:

With regard to the permissible file versions PDF, in particular PDF / A-1, PDF / A-2, PDF / UA, the file must contain all of the content required for displaying the document (in particular graphics and fonts).

What do you mean with that? There are fonts that are included directly in the file - so-called embedded fonts. Other, non-embedded fonts are not directly contained in the sent file. Rather, the image of the font is only generated when the file is opened by accessing the own fonts available in the opening program. This cannot be seen from the outside by either the recipient or the sender. The definition of the ERVB 2019 thus has a significant impact on the creation process of a .pdf that complies with the provisions of the ERVV and ERVB, but in practice it was largely ignored until the beginning of 2020. Since neither lawyers (nor judges) are IT experts and can hardly provide any details about their ongoing .pdf creation process, good advice is expensive. But there is a simple help: In most programs you can not only specify that a .pdf should be created, but also what type of .pdf should be created.
Choose the option here: PDF / A or. ISO 19005-1 compatible out. This .pdf / A format, which cannot be distinguished from a normal .pdf from the outside, has the advantage that all the fonts and graphics used are automatically embedded there and thus meet the requirements.

But how does it work?

In the products of the Microsoft line, .pdf generation is part of the option Save as controlled. Select as the file type PDF (.ppf) out. Then click on Options….