Magic circle firm Linklaters is offering technology that it claims will eliminate the need for paper signatures in legal transactions.
The e-signature technology allows clients to sign documents via their smartphones, tablets or desktop computers, which the firm says could put an end to the time-consuming practice of printing, signing and scanning multiple documents.
It will also mean clients will no longer need to stay in the office whilst lawyers finalise agreements, the firm said.
The technology, supported by DocuSign, allows signatories to access a document securely over the internet and sign it by dragging and dropping a version of their signature stored on their device.
Linklaters has already used the technology in four separate deals and now plans to roll out the practice more widely.
Mark Nuttall, a finance partner at Linklaters in London, who was first to use the service said: ‘Completing a signing in the traditional way can be a lengthy process, whereas through this mobile technology, with the click of a mouse or the tap of a table or smartphone, it can be reduced to minutes, whilst maintaining the formality and security of signing.’
He added: ‘We hit upon the idea of observing how digital signatures (e-signing) are commonly used for thousands of transactions in the rental market. It was clearly applicable to our work and our business services team quickly turned the idea into a reality.’
The initiative is part of Linklaters’ push to enhance the firm’s performance through identifying cost-effective options.
A Law Society spokesperson said: ‘It’s good to see that the roll-out of digital signatures continues, so solicitors get to focus on the work of advising clients instead of being bogged down in arcane administrative tasks and clients can get on with their business.
‘Firms looking into this need to make sure they are fully up to speed on the security issues that can arise with any new technology and are advised to speak to experts first.’
The Electronic Communications Act 2000 gives legal force to electronic contracts, but wet signatures are still required for transactions such as granting lasting powers of attorney as well as conveyancing.