Samantha Pickover | Paralegal at CG Professional
Following the Law Commission’s Report published on the 9th September 2019, concerning electronically signing documents, the Lord Chancellor has now confirmed that documents signed electronically are legally enforceable.
After the recent announcement by the Lord Chancellor, an electronic signature is capable, in Law of being used to execute a document or a deed provided that:
- Firstly, the person signing the document intends to authenticate it.
- Secondly, any further required formalities are observed. For example, if the document was a deed it would still have to be witnessed.
However, issues may arise with electronically signing deeds. As mentioned, the formalities will still have to be followed. Therefore, questions arise on how an electronic signature will be witnessed. The Commission have made a few suggestions in respect of this, in particular video witnessing. This is an issue which needs to be ironed out by the government, but it is a huge step forward in modernising the legal system.
The Law Commission have highlighted that unless specified in a piece of legislation or contractual agreement, common law does not prescribe for any particular method of signing a document.
As well as endorsing the Commissions conclusions the Lord Chancellor said that electronic signatures are ‘permissible and can be used in confidence in commercial and consumer documents.’ – The Law Society Gazette 3rd March 2020.
Unfortunately, this development does not extend to Wills or dispositions under the Land Registration Act 2002 as these are to be considered under a separate project by the Commission and HM Land Registry.
The CG Team are already using electronic signatures where possible to speed up the process and will continue to develop this further as technology evolves.