Reed Smith Client Alerts

The emergence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to social distancing and remote working. In this current environment it may not always be possible for proposed signatories to be physically present to provide ‘wet ink’ signature documents. However, under English law, electronic signatures can generally be provided in place of wet ink signatures. Issues may arise where a document (such as a deed) is required to be witnessed, or where a document is required to be filed with, or processed by, a government agency that requires wet ink originals.

Authors: Sakil A. Suleman Emma Weeden Lauren Dooley, Edmund Tyler

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Below are some questions that commonly arise with electronic signatures, together with possible solutions.

What constitutes an electronic signature?

A wide range of options are available. Examples include:

  1. A person typing their name into a contract or into an email containing the terms of a contract.
  2. A person electronically pasting their scanned signature into the signature block of an electronic (i.e. soft copy) version of the contract.
  3. A person inserting their scanned or typed signature into the signature block of a contract via a web-based e-signature platform (such as DocuSign or Adobe Sign, among others).
  4. A person using a finger, light pen or stylus and a touchscreen to write their name electronically in the signature block of the contract.