The Law Commission has confirmed that, in its view, electronic signatures can be used to sign formal legal contracts.

 

The Law Commission had been considering the status of electronic signatures and it believed that many businesses, particularly smaller ones without access to legal counsel, were unclear as to the status of electronic signatures due to a lack of clarity in current legislation. Whilst they have reached the view that legislative reform is not necessary, they are consulting and have also asked for consultees’ views on the following:

 

  • Whether the government should set up a group of industry experts to monitor the use of electronic signatures and advise on potential changes which could help businesses as new technology emerges?

 

  • If webcam or video links could be used instead of a physical witness for documents which require witnessed signatures?

 

  • Whether there should be a move away from traditional witnessing in person to:

 

(a)     a signing platform alone, where the signatory and witness are logged onto the same programme from different locations; or

 

(b)    the ability of a person to “acknowledge” that they applied an electronic signature to a witness after the event.

 

The consultation and instructions how to respond can be found here. The consultation closes on 23 November 2018.