A working group of the Company Law Committee of the Law Society, which includes Corporate Partner David Hicks, has published a Q&A on electronic signatures and virtual signings, addressing some of the practicalities arising from complying with execution formalities.
The use of virtual signings and electronic signatures in the execution of legal documents has long been established, even prior to the ‘new normal’ of remote working and social distancing. In recognition of this (and in light of the 2008 Mercury case), the Law Society has previously published two practice notes on virtual signings and electronic signatures, which the new Q&A are intended to supplement.
The Q&A address common questions on the methods and application of electronic signatures and practicalities of virtual signings. For example, they make it clear that a witness should still be physically present with a signatory at the time of their signature not via video link. If a signatory is social distancing, the witness should consider other means to be physically present at the signing, such as witnessing through a window, at a distance or in an outdoor space so long as they can see the signatory physically sign the document.
The Q&A also offer clear practical advice on other matters arising from observing execution formalities, which is welcomed not only by lawyers advising their clients but also non-lawyers who are increasingly dealing with legal documents whilst working remotely.