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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)

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