A recent Law Society’s practice note on the execution of documents using an electronic signature explains that signatures can take a number of different forms, beyond the person signing a hardcopy document in wet ink and converting the document and signature into electronic form. This includes:
- a person typing the name into a contract or into an email containing the terms of contract;
- a person electronically pasting their signature (for example in the form of an image) into an electronic (i.e. soft copy) version of the contract in the appropriate place (for example next to the relevant party signature block);
- a person accessing the contract through a web-based e-signature platform and clicking to have their name in the typed or handwriting font automatically inserted into the contract in the appropriate place (for example next to the relevant party signature block); or
- a person using a finger, light pen or stylus and a touchscreen to write their name electronically in the appropriate place (for example the relevant party signature block) in the contract.
The message therefore is to be very careful in relation to the signature of documents generally. As can be seen in our recent blog (https://www.london-law.co.uk/witnessing-deeds-is-it-possible-to-do-so-electronically-without-being-present/), remote witnessing was not successful. However, in the 2019 case of Wood v Commercial First it was held that while there is a requirement for the person executing a deed to sign in the presence of a witness, it is not a requirement for the witness to sign in the presence of the person executing the deed. In these days of remote working, great care must be taken to ensure that the validity of a deed cannot subsequently be challenged on the grounds of inadequate signing or witnessing procedures.
For further information on this or any other area of commercial law, why not contact one of Alexander JLO’s expert lawyers and see what we can do for you?