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It’s official: electronic signatures are legal

The Law Commission has ended uncertainty about digital signatures by confirming that under English law electronic signatures can be used to sign formal legal contracts.

Law Commissioner Stephen Lewis said: “Contract law in the UK is flexible, but some businesses are still unsure if electronic signatures would satisfy legal requirements. We can confirm that they do, potentially paving the way for much quicker transactions for businesses and consumers.”

The Government’s independent legal experts went further, proposing that in the future a webcam or video link could be used instead of a physical witness for documents, with the signatory and witness both logging on to the same signing platform.

The clarification has been welcomed by electronic signature specialist DocuSign. Area vice president Jacqueline de Gernier said: “We are delighted to see this positive outcome. The growth of the UK economy will be underpinned by organisations and individuals being able to conduct business in a faster, more efficient way and by having the ability to eliminate the hard costs associated with paper-based manual processes.

“This announcement removes any potential remaining confusion or uncertainty around the status of electronic signatures and will certainly serve as a catalyst for more traditional businesses to adopt electronic signatures.”

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