Insights Industry Working Group publishes final report on electronic execution of documents

The Industry Working Group (IWG) was set up by the Ministry of Justice to improve standards, reliability and security in electronic signatures and other means of legally executing documents and to address best practice in this area. It was set up following a recommendation by the Law Commission in its Report from 2019, which found that while e-signatures were legally valid for most purposes in England and Wales, the residual lack of clarity and confidence around their use risked hindering their uptake.

The IWG published its Interim Report in February 2022, setting out the IWG’s analysis of the current situation in England and Wales and identifying accessible best practice guidance based on existing technology, including specific considerations for vulnerable individuals. It also made recommendations for law reform and suggested related topics for future analysis.

The IWG has now published its Final Report, which it says completes its objective of promoting and facilitating the electronic execution of documents by matching appropriate solutions to the requirements of parties and to the problems they might face. The Final Report addresses the remaining Terms of Reference:

  • to consider the challenges arising from the use of electronic signatures in cross-border transactions;
  • how to address these challenges; and
  • how best to use electronic signatures to optimise their benefits when set against the risk of fraud.

The Final Report also sets out the Group’s recommendations for reform including recommendations for enhanced certification and self-certification, and a uniformity of approach to e-signing and online identification. To read the Final Report in full, click here.