Ask PLC Home

Practical Law may have moderated questions and answers before publication. No answer to a question is legal advice and no lawyer-client relationship is created between the person asking the question and the person answering it. Where appropriate, you should consult your own lawyer for legal advice. Practical Law's employees are not practising solicitors or barristers. The Ask scope and rules apply.

Can electronic signatures only be used by individuals?

As I understand it in relation to a simple contract under English law, a signature is not normally required and is only evidence of the parties intention to enter into an agreement and the terms of that agreement. As such, any form of electronic signature should be useful evidence of the existence and terms of the contract. Section 7 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000 supports this and says that an electronic signature is admissible in any legal proceedings as evidence. However, section 7(2)(b) (as amended) says an electronic signature has to be used by an 'individual'. Does this mean that a company can't use an electronic signature at all or just in relation to section 7? If a company can use an electronic signature anyway, say under common law, what is the purpose of section 7? The Government guide 'Electronic Signatures and Trust Services' says 'an electronic signature can now only be used by individuals' (page 7). Do you agree or is this misleading?
Anonymous (private practice)

Request a free trial

To access this resource and thousands more, register for a free, no-obligation trial of Practical Law. Register using the button below, telephone +44 (0)20 7202 1220 or e-mail info.practicallaw@thomsonreuters.com.

A free trial will give you:

Unlimited access to Practical Law online know-how
Thousands of market standard documents and clauses
Daily alerts and weekly update e-mails on key legal developments in your practice area
 

Register

Log in

To access this resource, log in below or register for free access.

Contact us

Our customer services team are available every working day 8.30am to 7pm (GMT).

{ "siteName" : "PLC", "objType" : "PLC_Doc_C", "objID" : "1248453451693", "objName" : "Can electronic signatures only be used by individuals", "userID" : "2", "objUrl" : "http://uk.practicallaw.com/cs/Satellite/resource/a-038-0173?null", "pageType" : "Resource", "academicUserID" : "", "contentAccessed" : "false", "analyticsPermCookie" : "2-3b01f5d1:15b0968f96b:-7834", "analyticsSessionCookie" : "2-3b01f5d1:15b0968f96b:-7833", "statisticSensorPath" : "http://analytics.practicallaw.com/sensor/statistic" }