Electronic Signatures

It is more straightforward to print a settlement agreement, the parties review, ‘wet’ sign, scan, and then email it to all concerned, however, as this isn’t possible at this present time, the legal status on the use of electronic signatures has been raised, especially if it is simply a cut and paste of a ‘dry’  scan of a party’s signature.

A full day of mediating, in person or online, is challenging and draining enough on everyone without getting to the end of the day to discover that there is an issue with acceptance on the use electronic signatures or any software used to create/encrypt it. 

(The Communications Act 2000 and the Electronic Identification and Signature Regulation has standardised the provisions for electronic signatures across the EU, however, it is only an encrypted digital signature created on a qualified certificate which will automatically have the equivalent legal standing of a handwritten signature.)

Given the value of the sums involved, the nature of some disputes and the potential to the risk of a challenge of the authenticity of an electronic signature, the use of a verified and/or auditable signature trail should, if their use is acceptable to the parties, already have been agreed and written into both the Mediation Agreement and Mediation Settlement Agreement.

There are various software applications: Rubix, DocuSign, EchoSign, etc. which are used and accepted in the wider commercial industry.