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 documents electronically, but this does not cover those documents which are required to be registered at the Land Registry which still require a “wet ink signature”.
For fuller details, please read the Guidance Note: Electronic Signature of Deeds and Contracts which you can reach by clicking here .
Please also see the Guidance Note: Formalities for Signing Deeds and Contracts on the various means by which deeds and contracts may be executed or signed in order to ensure that they are legally enforceable. You can find it here .
We recommend that you take professional legal advice if you are uncertain about any aspect of these topics.