On 30th October, Walker Morris published an article saying that the Law Commission reported in September that electronic signatures are valid; and that the law as it currently stands allows documents, including land contracts and deeds, to be executed with an electronic signature. This was followed by a case in which it was held that a single ‘document’ can include a chain of e-mails and that an automatically-generated e-mail footer constituted a valid signature for the purposes of section 2 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989. Both the Law Commission and court case have confirmed that the test as to whether a document has been ‘signed’ is whether the name (or mark) was applied with authenticating intent. It says that it is now more important than ever before that parties negotiating arrangements or agreements by e-mail – even including land contracts or other contracts with specific statutory signature requirements – understand the fundamental law of formation of contract, and appreciate that their automated e-mail signature could have a legally binding effect.
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