Electronic Signatures

In September 2019, the Law Commission published its final report on the Electronic Execution of documents. In March this year the Government responded, affirming its key conclusion: as long as the person signing intends to execute the document and that any further required formalities, such as a witness, are satisfied, electronic signatures are in most cases a valid alternative to ‘wet ink’ signatures.

It is important to note that this does not apply to most transactions relating to land. Other exceptions include registered dispositions under the Land Registration Act 2002 (including leases for less than 7 years) and the signing of wills.

The Commission observed that a lack of clarity in the law is discouraging some parties from executing documents electronically in circumstances when it would be more efficient and expedient to do so. It stated that this uncertainty may disproportionately affect smaller organisations which cannot afford legal advice, and that the security of wet ink signatures can be over-emphasised.   

Written signatures can be quickly scanned and uploaded to Microsoft Office for future use, following the instructions at the following link.

This statement is particularly welcome at a time when trustees are unable to meet to sign documents. While in lock down, Managing Trustees may also wish to make use of the TMCP’s template 'Section 333 Resolution' which permits two trustees to sign documents on behalf of a whole trustee body.

For queries about this content, please email lcp@methodistchurch.org.uk This article is not a substitute for legal advice.

 March 2020

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