Execution formalities—witnesses

The following Commercial practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Execution formalities—witnesses
  • Witnessing
  • What is the difference between witnessing and attestation?
  • When is a witness required?
  • Witnesses
  • How should a signature be witnessed?
  • Electronic and remote witnessing
  • HM Land Registry requirements

Execution formalities—witnesses

This Practice Note summarises the execution formalities for witnesses, including who can act as a witness to the signature of another person on a document relating to a commercial transaction such as a deed or simple contract, witnessing electronic signatures and the position on video witnessing. For information relating to the witnessing of wills, see Practice Note: Validity of Wills—signature.

We have produced a toolkit that is a comprehensive, interactive resource to help users identify and work through the concepts and common issues when executing documents, including information relating to the witnessing of signatures. Each section or phase includes practical guidance, precedent clauses and Q&As relevant to that section. For more information, see: Execution toolkit.


What is the difference between witnessing and attestation?

Witnessing involves observing the execution of a document. Attestation involves the additional step of recording, on the document itself, that the witness has observed the execution. Typically, this is achieved by the witness signing an attestation clause which confirms that the document was duly executed in the presence of a witness.

When is a witness required?

When executing commercial documents, the two most common situations in which attestation is required are execution of a deed by an individual and execution of a simple contract or deed by a company by the signature of one director of the company. For more information, see Practice Note: Executing documents—deeds and simple contracts.


Who can

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