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Electronic Signature Cases - English Law

There are relatively few judicial decisions addressing the validity of electronic signatures in England and Wales. The lack of cases is likely to reflect a strong consensus that, as a general matter, a signature in electronic form is legally capable of operating as a signature. As the September 2019 Law Commission Report on Electronic Execution of Documents observed:

“An electronic signature is capable in law of being used to execute a document (including a deed) provided that (i) the person signing the document intends to authenticate the document and (ii) any formalities relating to execution of that document are satisfied.”

There is also support for this in the Golden Ocean Court of Appeal case discussed below.

When judicial decisions have arisen, the dispute has tended to be about whether a specific statutory signature requirement was satisfied, whether informal insertion of a name was intended to be a signature, or whether the correct person applied the electronic signature. This paper gives examples of such cases.