HomeFWJ TakeawayBanks & financial institutionsClient take-onHow to continue executing legal documents and variations when everyone is working remotely

A lot of our banking, finance and borrower clients are asking us how they can continue executing documents and variations as deeds or contracts in the current crisis when it is not possible for parties to sign in person or for those signatures to be witnessed. There are a number of ‘workarounds’ available depending on the circumstances.

There is already some uncertainty in the current legislation on electronic signatures for the execution of deeds and there are circumstances in which the signing of contracts may not be easily achieved, such as where a document requires notarisation. In either case the relevant statutory and legal requirements must be satisfied. These include the intention to create a legally binding agreement and, in most instances, the provision of consideration by the parties.

When varying an agreement, this may often be done by mutual agreement. Again, there are legal formalities that must be complied with. These include the requirement for any agreement that varies the terms of an existing contract to either be supported by consideration or to be executed as a deed. Legal convention specifies that documents originally executed as a deed should be varied by a deed but valid variations can be made in other ways if the legal requirements are satisfied. 

In summary: in these challenging times when many people are in isolation or distancing from others, you do still have options, you just need to work out which one is right for your agreements.

If you require our guidance on this subject, please do get in touch.

This article represents our understanding of the law in England and Wales as at 23 March 2020. Its contents are not intended to serve as legal advice and should not be considered as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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