Electronic signature updates

Among the changes in working styles accelerated during the lockdown has been the prevalence of signing documents electronically rather than by pen to paper. While many businesses have been signing electronically for some time, electronic signing is seeing a surge in acceptance and availability.

An electronic signature uses accepted technology for the signer to designate their authority to a document in place of a written signature. Once applied, a document that has been signed electronically will become an original document as long as the electronic signing method reliably assures the integrity of the document. In practice this means taking steps to ensure that the document cannot be tampered with or changed after signing (other than by using the same amendment rules that apply to written signature documents).

Legal requirements in Part 4 of the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 set out the requirements regarding electronic signatures. Essentially, electronic signatures can be used and are considered as valid as written signatures when certain requirements are met and the parties agree.

Two very common electronic signing software applications are Adobe Sign and DocuSign. Xero uses Adobe Sign in its electronic signature facility. You may be seeing more providers and documents requesting you to use a form of electronic signature. You can be comfortable that as long as proper controls are in place, it is a genuine and valid method to ratify a document.

We will begin offering electronic signatures on certain tax documents that will save having to print, sign, scan and return them to us to file with Inland Revenue. Just part of an accelerated trend.

Contact us today for your no-obligation consultation.