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Background to electronic signature

Background to electronic signature of documents

As well as using conventional “wet ink” signatures on paper documents, for speed and convenience business people increasingly use documents in electronic form and an electronic means to “sign” those documents. The use of electronic signatures has increased substantially as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. 

The Law Society and the Law Commission have dispelled the uncertainty that existed until 2019 as to the legal validity of such electronic documents, and it is now clear that documents can be created and signed using electronic means. This has been reinforced by the publication in October 2022 of an updated version of the City of London Law Society's practice note. The Government might at some stage codify the relevant law so that the relevant law becomes more accessible.

The following paragraphs explain how to validly create, execute and use certain types of document electronically, but they cover only certain types of commercial contracts and other documents, not consumer or other documents. As to other types of document, you should seek legal advice.

For fuller details, please see the Guidance Notes under "Related Documents" below.

We recommend that you take professional legal advice if you are uncertain about any aspect of these topics.

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