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Electronic signatures and the importance of knowing your expert - Simon Ross, Exchange Chambers

17/05/20. On 3rd March 2020, Robert Buckland, the incumbent Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, confirmed that electronic signatures are permissible and legally valid if used in commercial and consumer documents. This declaration followed a Law Commission report, published in September last year, that looked at the electronic execution of documents, including deeds.

As the legal profession moves further into the digital age, this news brought to mind an incident that had occurred at a Joint Settlement Meeting; one that highlights the importance of knowing your experts and exploring all crucial issues in conference at an early stage.

The JSM

The details of the claim itself are not important to the story. It will suffice to say that I was representing a claimant at a JSM held prior to the date for delivery of joint statements from the experts. Upon my arrival, my opponent greeted me with news that a joint statement had arrived from one of the key pairs of experts. I was taken by surprise by this development as was my Instructing Solicitor. I requested a copy and, following a cursory glance, it appeared entirely unremarkable and bore the digitally reproduced signatures of both experts.

However, after reading it carefully, keen to learn how this piece of evidence might affect the day’s negotiations...

Image ©iStockphoto.com/Blair_witch

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