I had an interesting email from one of my Landlord Law members recently regarding signature of documents. She had two questions.
- Is it all right for guarantors to sign the guarantee deed and then scan and email it back?
- Tenants want to have tenancy agreements emailed to them wherever they are so they can also sign, scan and return. Can they do this so you have say four separate scanned copies of their signature or do they all have to sign the same physical form?
To help me answer this question I dug out the Law Society’s Execution of Documents book (2008 edition), a deeply boring volume which, like the muggle repelling charms on the World Quiddich site in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, had the effect of making me want to rush off and do something else. Immediately.
However from what I was able to discover before my eyes glazed over completely, there is such a thing as electronic signature but it does not appear to be just signing and scanning a form and emailing it back.
Mind you, I did have a case quite a few years ago, when a landlord living in the Caribbean who just had a faxed copy of the tenancy, was able to get this stamped (this was in the days when tenancy agreements had to be stamped), the original signed version not being available. (She needed a stamped version to use in her possession proceedings claim.) So non original documents are sometimes given official recognition.
My feeling is that if the question ever arose in a court hearing, the Judge might be minded to accept a scanned copy of a signature as evidence of the guarantor or tenant’s intention to be bound by a contract (whether this is a guarantee or a tenancy).
However there might be problems if the situation required signature of the document as a deed. Unless he were willing to accept sight of a copy as proof that the original existed.
I also think that where there are joint tenants they all need to sign the same document. A sheaf of separate electronic pages all with just one signature is not going to be good enough (although it may be proof of an intention to be bound by the terms of a tenancy).
However the need for original signatures on the same documents can cause problems where not all the tenants are available in one place to sign the form before the start of the tenancy.
What does anyone else think?