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Lord Chancellor backs report of Law Commission on electronic execution of document

The Lord Chancellor has said he agrees with the Law Commission’s conclusion that formal primary legislation is not necessary to reinforce the legal validity of electronic signatures.

In a written ministerial statement on the Commission’s report on Electronic Execution of Documents, Robert Buckland said: “The existing framework makes clear that businesses and individuals can feel confident in using e-signatures in commercial transactions.

“I endorse the Commission’s draft legislative provision as set out in the report, as reflecting the Government’s view of the legal position on electronic signatures. They are permissible and can be used in confidence in commercial and consumer documents.”

The Lord Chancellor also said he accepted the Commission’s recommendation that an Industry Working Group should be established, which the Government should convene.

“As the report demonstrates, notwithstanding the position in law, there are issues on the security and technology of electronic signatures that require further consideration from suitably experienced experts,” he said, adding that he would ask the Industry Working Group to consider the question of video witnessing of electronic signatures.

Buckland continued: “The report highlights that technological advances have meant that the status of electronic signatures is also applicable in other fields of law, and I note that while this presents opportunities it also entails challenges. These include ensuring that reform does not have any adverse impact, particularly on vulnerable people.

“That is linked to the Law Commission’s recommendation that there should be a wider review of the law of deeds, which I accept. The Government will ask the Law Commission to undertake this review, although the timing for the review will be subject to overall Government and Law Commission priorities given the volume of law reform work which exists.”