Making your mark: the validity of electronic signatures in property documents

In an age where speed is key, the use of electronic signatures is gaining in popularity as it represents a fast and practical alternative to manuscript signatures and circulating documents for signature in the post. Whether or not such electronic signatures satisfy the statutory requirements for the valid execution of a property document is a widely debated topic and one that is examined in this article.

Property transactions will generally involve either a contract, a deed or both. For a document to be executed as a deed, it must be delivered as a deed and either: signed by the parties in the presence of a witness who attests the signatures; or signed at the parties’ direction and in the presence of two witnesses who each attest the signature.

For a valid property contract to be created, it must be in writing and incorporate all of the terms that have been expressly agreed. In addition, the documentation incorporating these terms must be signed by or on behalf of each party and adhere to standard contractual principles (i.e. there must be an offer, an acceptance and an intention to create legal relations)…

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