Q&As

My client was due to execute a settlement agreement by deed at our offices. Where that individual is no longer able or willing to travel, can they sign, and their signature be witnessed, remotely?

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Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 24/03/2020

The following Dispute Resolution Q&A Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • My client was due to execute a settlement agreement by deed at our offices. Where that individual is no longer able or willing to travel, can they sign, and their signature be witnessed, remotely?

The question of whether a deed can be witnessed remotely is a difficult one as the position at law is unclear. For the reasons that follow, it is likely to be in the best interests of the client to execute the settlement agreement in the physical presence of the witness, rather than remotely.

The Law Commission on Electronic Execution of Documents (Law Com No. 386) considers that there is no need for formal primary legislation to reinforce the legal validity of electronic signatures on documents, but states that the position in respect of remote witnessing of documents is less clear. Section 1(3) of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 (LP(MP)A 1989) provides that an instrument is validly executed as a deed if, and only if, it is signed by an individual in the presence of a witness who attests the signature; or at their direction and in their presence and the presence of two witnesses who each attest the signature, and it is delivered as a deed. 

The issue of what ‘in the presence of a witness’ means in the context of remote witnessing

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