E-signatures are fine on agency agreement, county court rules

published on 22/03/2017  

A county court has upheld the use of an electronic signature in an agency agreement.

The case involved south-east Wales agents Roberts and a tenant’s guarantor in a rental arrears case.

Roberts’ regional manager Nick Blight said the guarantor was trying to dispute her obligation to cover rent arrears of £3,668.

The guarantor’s defence was that the electronic Signable signature did not match her regular signature when signed on paper.

Blight said that the judge “barely questioned” the contract.

He said: “Once he had seen Signable’s email train, alongside an application form completed by the guarantor declaring her email address, which is the one that the Signable document was sent to, he ruled in our favour.”

Importantly, said Blight, the judge dismissed the argument that the guarantor’s e-signature did not resemble her physical signature, as digital signatures often look different because of the technology used.

Roberts will now be going back to court, seeking damages at around £8,000.

A spokesperson for Signable said that the case shows that e-signatures can be used in court.

The spokesperson said: “Electronic signatures are an incredibly useful solution for any business that needs documents sent and signed regularly.

“However, many are reluctant to break their tie with the traditional method and switch to signing contracts online.

“This can be due to company processes in place but is largely a result of insecurities around legal validity.

“Electronic signatures are 100% legal and compliant and have been since the introduction of the Electronic Communications Act in 2000.

“However, as there are little to no examples of electronic signatures admitted as evidence in court, companies are still slow to adopt.”

The Law Society published a practice note last July, which agents might find useful:

http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/advice/practice-notes/execution-of-a-document-using-an-electronic-signature/


Reference: Renshaw, R. 2017. E-signatures are fine on agency agreement, county court rules, Property Industry eye.