Is an electronic signature on a settlement agreement valid?
Yes, the parties to a settlement agreement can sign it using an electronic signature (also known as a digital signature or e-signature). The purpose of signatures on a settlement agreement is to provide evidence that the parties agree to the terms and intend the agreement to be binding. Section 7 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000 provides that electronic signatures are admissible as evidence in any legal proceedings where the authenticity of the document is in question. The Act gives a wide definition of electronic signature. It can be anything in electronic form that is incorporated into, or otherwise logically associated with, any electronic communication and that purports to be used by the individual creating it to sign.
To provide stronger evidence that the electronic signature is authentic, the parties could use a secure online electronic signature platform. Such platforms can provide evidence that the signature is linked to the person's email and IP address, and evidence of the time the signature was made.