Electronic Signatures

Guidance Note: Electronic Signature of Deeds and ContractsUpdated

PROP.GN.ES.01

This Guidance Note: Electronic Signature of Deeds and Contracts provides an explanation of the legal basis for creating and executing certain types of contracts, deeds and other documents electronically, taking account of the Law Society’s 2016 and Law Commission’s 2019 legal opinion and guidance on the subject.

As explained in this Note, in certain situations, not only will many documents in electronic form be valid and binding as if they were in hard copy form, but also an “electronic signature” appended to them will be as valid as a traditional signature. This Guidance Note: Electronic Signature of Deeds and Contracts Note also defines what is meant in law by “signature”, “electronic signature” and “in writing” for present purposes.

As an exception to the following guidance about electronic documents, the Land Registry has its own requirements in relation to documents required to be filed with it. You are advised to check the Land Registry’s guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/execution-of-deeds , or seek advice from a legal professional, before drafting and executing any document that is to be submitted to the Land Registry.

It is also important to note that where a deed needs to be signed in the presence of a witness, the witness should be physically present for the signing of the document, even where the signature is made electronically.

This Guidance Note refers to, and in effect supplements, the Guidance Note: Formalities for Signing Deeds and Contracts in this subfolder. If you read both Notes, that will help you to decide whether and how you can validly create and sign a particular document electronically.

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