Is an Electronic Signature Valid in Your Jurisdiction?
The continuing restrictions imposed on firms due to government guidelines on coronavirus (COVID-19) safe practice are having a knock-on effect on the finalising of legal documentation, particularly in respect of signatures.
Jurisdictions have differing laws on signatures used on documentation. In the current circumstances, it is important to know whether signatories may replace wet-ink with e-signature and if so, under what conditions. European law firm Fieldfisher has developed and launched an online portal to track legal opinions on e-signatures for financial documentation in 37 countries.
Fieldfisher's Electronic Signatures Opinion Portal tool enables International Swaps & Derivatives Association, Inc. (ISDA) member firms to easily access and digest elements of the legal opinions on electronic signatures commissioned by ISDA. Continually updated, the portal contains new information when it is available; such as the recent announcement by the Law Society for England and Wales setting out its position on the use of virtual execution and e-signature during the COVID-19 pandemic; and the recent statement from Financial Conduct Authority that its rules do not explicitly require wet-ink signatures in agreements.
Head of Fieldfisher's derivatives and structured finance group, Guy Usher, said under the current lockdown conditions dictated by the coronavirus outbreak, ISDA members would benefit from a clear and concise reference tool to assess current opinions on e-signatures. "The portal contains simplified summaries of the opinions as they apply to certain ISDA documentation and provides our assessment on whether the conclusions in those opinions should apply to other forms of documentation for financial transactions," said Mr Usher. "In view of the current global lockdowns which are in place we are conscious that market practice has been quickly evolving so we have also included some practice notes and recent developments."
The portal is currently available free to ISDA member firms that register on the Fieldfisher website – https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/services/financial-markets-and-products/electronic-signatures-opinion-portal.
The portal is not a product that has been authorised or approved by ISDA. The underlying legal opinions belong to ISDA, which is why only ISDA members may use the portal.