News and Insights
8 March 2022
The Government of Jersey has approved modernising amendments to the Electronic Communications (Jersey) Law 2000 (the ESigning Law).
The amended legislation will come into force on 11 March 2022.
Why were amendments made?
Jersey businesses need a clear and long-term set of rules allowing and regulating the remote witnessing of signatures. As a result of COVID-19 measures were introduced, but they were temporary and restricted in scope.
Due to developments in remote working, the application of a person’s electronic signature is not always carried out by the signatory themselves; for example, a staff member may have authority for administrative convenience to reproduce a senior colleague’s signature. Therefore, certainty under the law is needed to make clear that B’s use of A’s signature, where B has authority to do so, is valid.
There is a need to establish that a signature, seal, attestation, or notarisation is not to be denied legal effect or validity merely because it is in electronic form.
What are the key changes?
They clarify that the remote witnessing of signatures by audio-visual link is legally valid.
Where a person is required or authorised to sign a document, that person (Person A) may authorise another person (Person B) to attach Person A’s electronic signature to the document on Person A’s behalf, and that document will then bind Person A as if they had been the person who attached their signature to it.
There will be an express statement to the effect that a signature, seal, attestation or notarisation is not to be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability only because it is in electronic form.
What practical steps should businesses consider taking in light of these changes?
Businesses should introduce internal policies to explain when their personnel may, and may not, make use of electronic signatures and electronic witnessing.
Businesses should consider whether the precautions taken to authenticate the identity of persons signing electronically or witnessing remotely (for instance, as provided in software packages such as DocuSign) are appropriate to their needs.
Businesses should draw up rules to be followed when signing authority is to be delegated, covering, for example, how such delegation should be authorised and evidenced.
Viberts Corporate law team remain on hand to assist with any legal queries you have in relation to how this new legislation may impact you or your business.
Alternatively, if you need any advice regarding corporate, funds, banking, employment, insolvencies, or contractual queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.