Are face-to-face completions a thing of the past? - Kuits Solicitors Manchester
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Are face-to-face completions a thing of the past?

Are face-to-face completions a thing of the past?

18th December 2020 - Published by Kuits corporate team

In recent times we have found that, though spread across the globe and the increasing urgency to get deals done quickly and efficiently, it remains human nature to still appreciate a face-to-face meeting.

Often nothing can beat an in-person completion meeting where both sides gather around a table to sign documents, shake hands and ‘complete’.

Yet, with the global pandemic raging and social distancing now the norm, it has been necessary to adapt expectations to achieve goals, and a lot of this has involved signing and completing remotely.

What does “remote signing” mean?

Previously, remote signing involved hard copy documents being signed in wet ink, then scanned in and emailed to the solicitors. Solicitors would exchange respective client documents by email and complete by agreeing to date the documents they hold and exchange them by post.

Although electronic signing has been increasing in popularity over recent years, wet ink can be preferable as there is a degree of certainty involved. Additionally, for some documents, it is imperative that the wet ink originals are received by the solicitors.

In the current climate though, wet ink signing often hasn’t been possible; people haven’t been able to attend their offices and haven’t had printers and scanners at home. Because of this, people have had to adapt quickly to the environment and find ways around it in order to get deals done.

To assist with this issue, electronic signing, which was already popular before the pandemic, has vastly increased over recent months out of necessity. A number of e-signing platforms grew in popularity during lockdown and since. However, the key question is how reliable are they? It must be remembered that how documents are signed can have an impact on both legal validity and evidential weight. Key considerations include:

  • Authenticity – Whether an electronic document comes from a particular person or other source.
  • Integrity – Whether there has been any tampering with or changes to the electronic document after signature.
  • Non-repudiation – That the signatory cannot deny that they signed the electronic document.

The other issue is that many documents in the corporate world require witnessing. There has been recent guidance from The Law Society in respect of witnessing which states that, even when a deed is executed by electronic means, the witness must still be physically present. This raises obvious difficulties in an environment of self-isolation and social distancing.

So, whilst technology has helped move things along enormously, unfortunately signing certain documents properly still involves people having contact.

Get in touch with a corporate solicitor in Manchester

Here at Kuits, we embrace the convenience that remote completions and electronic signing bring to our clients both now and in the future as this becomes increasingly the norm, whilst also hoping that we can in the near future return to a normal where we routinely gather round a table with our clients and other parties in a transaction to complete a deal.

Where virtual completions and signing is necessary or desirable we can guide you through the process of remote completion and electronic signing to ensure that you are protected by avoiding the possible pitfalls.

If you are unsure whether you can “e- sign” your documents or how to deal with a remote completion, please do not hesitate to contact Sheridan Broude in the Corporate team on 0161 838 8175 or email sheridanbroude@kuits.com.

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