The Law Commission’s Statement of Law: Execution with an electronic signature – what does it mean for your organisation?

England and Wales
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The COVID-19 pandemic has made the in-person signing of deeds and documents impractical and created a nation of ‘remote’ workers.

Mercury-compliant ‘virtual signings’ (where the signature page of a hard copy document is signed in wet-ink and a PDF of the signed signature page is typically sent by email to the signatory’s lawyer following the guidance in the Law Society’s 2010 practice note on the execution of documents at a virtual signing or closing) are the preferred method for many businesses executing transaction documents. However, the use of electronic signature platforms such as Adobe Sign and DocuSign can, in many circumstances, provide a viable, and arguably often more user-friendly, alternative and they are gaining increasing traction in the market.  

This article sets out the full text of the Law Commission’s 2019 statement of law relating to the electronic execution of documents in England and Wales. To help you evaluate the statement in the context of how you may wish to use electronic signature platforms within your organisation, the text has been annotated to provide guidance on the interpretation of the statement’s propositions and links to relevant legislation and case law.

This article is an edited, updated and extended version of an article originally written by Richard Oliphant (consultant, CMS) and published by Practical Law (Thomson Reuters) in March 2020. The statement of law is reproduced under Crown copyright and contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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