Electronic Signature

The Law Commission has opened a consultation which will run until the 23rd of November 2018 in relation to electronic signatures on documents.

It has long been the case that most agreements between individuals and or businesses do not necessarily have to be in writing and therefore do not require any kind of signature in order to be enforceable.  A handshake between consenting parties is normally sufficient to form a binding contract and in today’s electronic world, most of us have concluded contracts by clicking an “accept” button.

These contracts can therefore easily be concluded online without too much formality.

However, the law requires that some contracts, including those concerning the purchase or sale of land, or the giving of a guarantee, or agreeing to grant a mortgage, must be in writing and must be “signed”.

The main reason for this is that a set of written terms and a signature prove conclusively that an agreement has been concluded. And that the agreement was concluded in accordance with the written terms.

If there is no signature, either party could try to deny that they agreed the terms of the deal and, if the whole deal is not written down, then either party could seek to add terms later on and claim that the extra terms were also agreed.

Issues arise in relation to these sorts of documents as they are generally executed as “Deeds” and therefore any signature needs to be “witnessed”.

The Law Commission has suggested that witnesses could be provided by two persons logging onto a website at the same time, or by the witness viewing the signature being attached by means of a web cam device.

Solicitors have often been accused of being dusty, out of date and behind the times and this is evidence of Lawyers looking to finally legislate to ensure that in future it will be possible and conclusive for all documents to be executed without actually applying an ink signature to a piece of paper.

Friday Legal Solicitors have never been accused of being dusty or out of date and have always taken commercial, pragmatic and forward thinking attitudes to all of their legal advice and as such will be contributing to the consultation process brought by the Law Commission to enable to process of concluding contracts and commercial Agreements to be speeded up and to take account of the vast array of technology now available to us all.

Friday Legal Solicitors is an exclusively business-focussed legal practise which advises many hundreds of businesses up and down the country in relation to the acquisition and sale of businesses and companies, the entering into and formation of contracts and joint ventures, the acquisition and sale of commercial properties, buildings and development sites as well as advising on Employment Law and Dispute Resolution matters.

Friday Legal Solicitors can be contacted at getintouch@fridaylegal.com or by telephone (01536) 218888.

 

Posted on 06 September 2018