Guidance Note: Electronic Signature of Deeds and Contracts
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 (1) the Law Society’s 2016, (2) the Law Commission’s 2019 and (3) the City of London Law Society 2022, legal opinions and guidance on the subject.
Following the effects of COVID 19 on the practical ability to execute documents using manual signatures, the use of virtual execution (including the use of e-signatures) as highlighted in this guidance note is now more common. Please click here to see the Law Society’s guidance on Covid-19 and execution of documents.
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 also defines what is meant in law by “signature”, “electronic signature” and “in writing” for present purposes.
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 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.
As an exception to this guidance about electronic documents, the Land Registry has its own requirements for documents to be filed. You are advised to refer to the Guidance-Note-Electronic-Signature-of-Deeds-and-Contracts or check the Land Registry’s Practice Guide 82: electronic signatures accepted by HM Land Registry, before drafting and executing any property document that is to be submitted to the Land Registry.
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