The UK government’s expert Industry Working Group on Electronic Execution of Documents has today (1 February 2022) published their interim report, which: sets out their analysis of the current situation in England and Wales; identifies simple best practice guidance based on existing technology, including for vulnerable individuals; and makes recommendations for future analysis and reform. The report can be found on GOV,UK. You can watch Lord Justice Birss, Mr Justice Fraser and Professor Sarah Green discussing the report and its findings below:
The Industry Working Group was convened following a recommendation by the Law Commission, which the Lord Chancellor welcomed and implemented. More details, including the Group’s membership and full Terms of Reference, can be found on GOV.UK.
The Ministry of Justice welcomes the interim report and is grateful for the Group’s work, which will assist in informing the future use and uptake of e-signatures by government and others. The Group’s work is also central to ensuring that the UK remains a centre for legal excellence and that the English and Welsh jurisdiction continues to lead the way in enabling the adoption emerging technologies and in supporting and facilitating digital trade and commerce.
Lord David Wolfson, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, said:
I would like to thank the Industry Working Group for this important report on electronic signatures. We in Government are excited about the potential benefits of new, digital ways of working and I welcome in particular the best practice guidance put forward by the group, which will help increase confidence in and encourage uptake of electronic signatures. I am committed to ensuring the UK jurisdiction remains at the forefront of adapting to digital innovation, so that we can best capture the opportunities this offers for our businesses and citizens.
In the next phase of its work, the Group will focus on its remaining Terms of Reference, namely to consider the challenges arising from the use of electronic signatures in cross-border transactions and how to address them, and how best to use electronic signatures so as to optimise their benefits when set against the risk of fraud.